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By Blanche C.Weill, Ed.D. 




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Copyright, 1940, by 


Copyright, 1944, by 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may 
be reproduced in any form without permis- 
sion in writing from the publisher, except by 
a reviewer who wishes to quote brief pas- 
sages in connection with a review written 
for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. 

Printed in the United States of America 






1 8 2 7 

The author acknowledges with deep appreciation permission 
from the editors of "Parents' Magazine" to include, in the intro- 
ductory chapter, an editorial written for them; from the Harvard 
University Press, to use certain material from her earlier book, 
"The Behavior of Young Children of the Same Family"; and 
from the Donald Whaley Home, to write of some of the children 
who had lived there. Special appreciation goes to Marion Patton 
Waldron, and to others who have given helpfully of their time 
and knowledge. 


The last twenty years has seen the extension of the "pub- 
lic health point of view" to the problems of personality and 
adjustment. The physician asks what is wrong with a pa- 
tient, what is his weakness. To one in the public health field, 
the patient is sensitive, rather than weak — the patient is 
unconsciously trying to tell something about his surround- 
ings. Thus, more and more, we ask what is right about our 
patients rather than what is wrong. 

These pages are full of warm sympathy for their small 
heroes and heroines, — but particularly is there a quickened 
ear for what they are trying to tell about the pressures or 
dreams, the frustrations and ventures, of their families. I 
have long felt that to the extent that we could see these 
problems as the child sees them, to that extent we would be 

The problem child is much more trying to solve a prob- 
lem than to be one. Where, as here, one listens, — the child 
tells of those stresses which press upon less sensitive broth- 
ers and sisters, as well. 


Real preventive programs of the coming years can be 
built only from such data as are given here. 

James S. Plant, M.D. 
Director Essex County Juvenile Clinic 


This book is significant not only in what it tells about the 
problems of children and parents, but also in what it im- 
plies about the world beyond childhood. 

Often, when adults, in their immeasurable complacency, 
call some silly, unreasonable and disconcerting behavior 
"childish," I have wondered why no child protests. I have 
wanted to protest in the name of childhood, and call that 
kind of behavior "adultish." What the whole group of 
adults in one so-called civilized hemisphere is doing now, 
shows where the real problems lie. We might sit down and 
think awhile about ways to meet them, if there should still 
be time. 

Perhaps the problem rulers of today, totalitarian, consti- 
tutional or whatever they may be who interfere so pain- 
fully, by their wild tantrums, with nature's course, would 
never have developed if they had been taken in hand, in 
childhood, by a skilled consultant psychologist, or by their 
parents, noticing that something was wrong with their 
little boy. If people had taken notice of expressions of mis- 
ery before they became hurricanes, there might have been 
no need for wars or upheavals. 

It is a good thing to study the problems of children. All 
children are problems at one time or another, and all peo- 


pie are children most of their lives, at least in parts and 
stages of their personality. That is why children never stop 
teaching us how we might mend the ways of the world. 
We have much to learn. This book spreads many aspects 
before us. It has the added quality of being good reading. 

Helene Scheu-Riesz 




TIONS such as: 


Mark I 

Sally Ann 14 

Timothy 23 

Elizabeth 33 


Margaret and Paul 60 

Doris 75 

Laura 83 


Ardis and Alice 103 

Raymond and Louise 119 

Jimmie and Sally Ann 132 



Jimmie and his father 






Bryce and Win 












Edgar — from the idea of a stepmother 


Isabel — from too many bosses 


Willa — from reality 




Sally Ann 



















Stanley 274 

Alta and Jaffrey 279 

Situation XII. ADOPTED 

Arthur 297 

Marguerite 305 

i Situation XIII. BEING AN "ONLY" 

(not intolerable, sometimes difficult) 
Eleanor 318 

Kathy 322 


Sally Ann 325 


Three Successful Families 331 

The Houghtons 332 

The Monroes 341 

The Arnolds 346 


Sally Ann 353 


What to Expect of This Boo\ 

have you ever thought how the world appears to your 
children ? 

It is different from ours. If you do not believe this, lie 
flat upon the floor and see how the world looks to the 
creeping baby. See how huge loom chair-legs and seats, 
the table a dark cloud in the sky. See how narrow the 
horizon is. This is the baby-eye view of the world. 

Sit up and crouch low on your knees. Now the horizon 
widens a little. Furniture is not quite so overwhelming. 
But door-knobs are still hard to reach and windows show 
nothing but sky. This is the three- or four-year-old view. 

Rise up on your knees and you see the world as the six- 
or seven-year-old sees it. 

Lie flat again and see how people loom gigantic in stature 
and importance. They can seize you from your crib, swing 
you through the air, douse you in water. They can give: 
they can take away. You are powerless against their kind- 
ness or their ruthlessness. They are omnipotent. They are 
incalculable. Sometimes we must literally get down to the 
child's level in order to see with his eyes. 

In order to live in this world, small and partial to us, 


but the universe to him, he needs to feel tied to its most 
powerful beings, his parents. The strongest tie comes from 
the relaxation and peace he feels in their arms. Here is the 
beginning of affection. The ability to count on this affec- 
tion becomes as important to the child as physical support. 
It, too, keeps him from fear. 

How can he feel increasingly secure in his ties to a 
world full of grown-ups who have had so many things to 
learn that they have forgotten how a child sees, feels, 
thinks and what things mean to him? These grown-up 
people don't even understand the same language! Words 
and acts mean different things to the child and to the 
grown-up. Children try and try to get messages through 
to us, and generally give up in despair! This lack of a 
common means of communication is an underlying cause 
of most children's difficulties. 

The adult's task is to sensitize himself to receive these 
wordless messages. But this takes time and so my work 
has been to act as an interpreter between children and 
their grown-ups. Many mothers, to whom I have told 
some of the experiences of these children, have asked me 
to write them down, in all their details. So here they are, 
telling what the child thought and said and did, and what 
the parent thought, said and did, and how the two got 

You may tell me that your child is naughty. Wouldn't 
it be interesting to find out your child's story about what 
you called his naughtiness ? One thing I can tell you defi- 


nitely. A naughty child is an unhappy child. He may not 
seem on the surface to be unhappy, but whatever form his 
naughtiness may take, it is a kind of language. And this is 
what it is saying: "You don't love me enough," or "You 
don't love me as much as the others," or "You don't love 
me at all. I can't bear it, so I have to do something about it !" 

You love your child so much that it is hard for you to 
believe this. But let the children in the stories convince 
you by telling you their side in their own words. Read the 
experiences of Mark and his mother, and you will get a 
glimpse of what I mean. True, Mark's mother really did 
neglect him a little. So also read about Sally Ann, whose 
mother came just short of giving her too much affection 
and who tried as far as was humanly possible to be both 
fair and wise. 

The child may be right in his belief about the way you 
love him. He is more likely to be absolutely wrong. Per- 
haps he has received too much affection and so expects the 
impossible. Too much affection and solicitude is as intol- 
erable, is as much of a handicap, as to be loved too little. 
Perhaps his funny, literal little mind is not convinced of 
the affection which you think he must surely take for 
granted. In either case, his anxiety and his suffering, how- 
ever foolishly based they seem to you, are real. What he 
believes is true for him. So he acts accordingly. 

The love of which you need to convince him is not an 
indulgent, smothering love that would keep him acting 
on a baby level, but it must be understanding and wise, 


the kind that he can count on through deprivations and 
joys. It must also lead him to give as well as take, thus 
broadening his interests beyond himself. 

Help for him lies in your finding out just what is the 
intolerable state of affairs that forces him to act as he does. 
As soon as he sees that there is another way of looking at 
the matter, he realizes that he has been mistaken, and that 
he need no longer act in that way. 

With a little understanding and imagination on both 
sides, you will find how much more smoothly life will 
run. The need for disapproval or punishment almost dis- 

The more timid, quiet child, who, we say, is never 
naughty, shows by his moping and slipping into corners, 
that he is unhappy too. 

We use the word naughty too freely. A child is not 
naughty just because he inconveniences us, or embarrasses 
us by his questions. He is not naughty even when he gets 
into mischief through his curiosity. He should be called 
naughty only when he is experienced enough to be able 
to try deliberately to injure others. 

The value of this book, it seems to me, lies in giving a 
bit of the child-way of thinking. To the extent that we, as 
parents, teachers or counselors, see with the child's eyes, 
hear with his ears, reason at his level of thinking, we can 
feel his emotions and understand why he acts as he does. 
And then— we can no longer judge. We can only try to 
understand and try to help. 

This does not mean to give in to the child. To pamper 


or soften him would be to insure his unhappiness. It does 
mean to help him to see that he is mistaken, and that he 
needs the power of independence instead of the baby's 
power of helplessness. 

This book is not fiction. Every child in it is a real child 
whom I have known. Sometimes these children came to 
me with their problems, saying, "I've gotten myself into 
trouble again." Sometimes parents or schools brought them 
in. Some are the children of my friends. 

Of course, in giving these glimpses into their lives, it 
has been necessary to keep the confidences of both chil- 
dren and parents. When I have told a particularly personal 
story, it is with permission. And in every story, names, 
places and external circumstances have been changed or 
kept vague. 

The main places where these stories occur, apart from 
the children's own homes and my office as private consult- 
ant, are the Children's House, an interesting twenty-four- 
hour-school described in "Elizabeth," and two Guidance 
Clinics. In one of these I worked with a home-visitor; in 
the other, with a home-visitor and a psychiatrist. The fact 
that not all the stories are located at one spot need cause 
no confusion, as the one thing of vital importance is the 
effect of the personal contact on child and parent, no mat- 
ter whose contact it is. 

All children have common needs, common difficulties 
in meeting the increased demands that growing older 
makes. In reading about children who are different from 
your child, you will come to see what are his deepest 


needs. In every story you will find something you can use. 
In some aspect or other your child is there. The real magic 
that brings the solution of your difficulties is the attitude 
of you, as a grown-up, facing your child. Nothing can take 
the place of that. 

As you read some of these stories you may feel that cer- 
tain difficulties a mother mentions are not adequately 
treated, or not treated at all. There are two reasons for 
this. Frequently symptoms of unhappiness such as thumb- 
sucking or food difficulties disappear of themselves as the 
child feels himself more secure. Sometimes the story would 
become too cluttered if all the details of many visits were 

The last three stories tell of families in which I watched 
wise parents guide their children to maturity. 

There is an appendix, a summing up of the problems 
presented by each story, called a psychological summary. 

A word of fairly recent coinage expresses this attempt 
to understand why people do what they do. Empathy: a 
feeling into another person. With empathy a new wisdom 
comes to us. Before, we did not know that we were hurt- 
ing our children. We did not know that they were un- 
happy when they were naughty or inarticulate. 

Now that we know we act differently. We recognize 
their need of our help in discovering what it means to 
grow up out of babyhood into independent maturity. 


They Thought They Were Not Loved 


JVIark was convinced that his parents did not love him. 
At least, they did not love him as much as they did his six- 
and seven-year-old brothers. His chin quivered and the 
tears dripped off his round cheeks as he whispered the 


heart-breaking secret over which he had been brooding. 
Even the dignity of ten years and the sixth grade at school 
could not hold back those tears when I asked him, "And 
how do you get along at home?" Then it all came out. 

He'd suspected it for some time, but to be perfectly sure, 
he had been collecting proofs. In the first place, he was 
always being asked to do things and his little brothers 
never were. Then, he got all the scoldings. If anything 
went wrong it was his fault always and never the fault of 
those two little sneaks. That was proof number two. Then 
the two little boys got all the petting. He never got a hug 
or a kiss, and nobody ever put an arm around him, but 
they were always kissing and hugging Bunny and Ken 
and holding them on their laps. All this made him feel 
queer inside, "kind'a sick," and he thought about it a lot, 
even in school. But yesterday — and here the tears and 
quivering voice made the story come forth in gasps — he 
had had the final proof, and it bowled him clean over. 

When he got home for lunch his mother had picked 
the smallest plate in the file and had given that plate to 
him. That meant she didn't love him enough even to give 
him enough to eat. He just couldn't stay at the table and 
he ran back to school but he couldn't think about anything 
else and he couldn't do his lessons and when the teacher 
asked him what the matter was, of course he couldn't tell 
her that his mother didn't love him, so he just told her 
that she hadn't given him any lunch and then he couldn't 
help crying, right there in school. 

Mark's mother had brought him to me, her mood a 


mixture of bewilderment and anger. It was her story which 
I heard first. The boy had been quarreling unbearably 
with his little brothers for a long time. He had been get- 
ting lazier and more defiant at home. Recently his fine 
report cards had begun to fall off. But yesterday had been 
the final straw. At noon, without any reason or explana- 
tion he had suddenly pushed back his plate without tast- 
ing a mouthful and rushed out of the room. When he got 
to school, the teacher told her, he began to cry and said 
he couldn't do his work because he was hungry, and his 
mother wouldn't give him any lunch. She couldn't get 
anything out of him at home. He was just sulky and defi- 
ant, and so, in view of the quarreling, the falling marks in 
school and this last inexplicable episode, she had brought 
him over to me. 

Questioned about the home situation, she said that she 
and her husband had always been and still were much in 
love with each other, that they had eagerly welcomed their 
children, had been able to give them a comfortable, though 
modest home, with music lessons and simple pleasures like 
a yearly circus and an occasional movie. 

Mark had always been well. He had been happy as a 
baby. As he grew older he had many playmates. School 
had been a pleasure. 

The parents had not prepared him for the coming of 
the two younger babies, but he had not seemed to be jeal- 
ous of them. He had always been independent and un- 
demonstrative, in marked contrast with the two younger 
boys who had always been "cuddlers." 


The mother thought the quarreling with the younger 
brothers had begun to disturb her about two years before. 
The past year, however, it had increased tremendously in 
frequence and in violence. At the same time, she had 
begun to notice the laziness and carelessness in doing his 
small household tasks, and his bursts of temper toward 
her and toward his father. 

When asked which child was her favorite, she denied 
that either she or her husband had a favorite. Then she 
stopped and corrected herself. 

"All the babies were equally welcome. I'm sure of that, 
although I did wish one of them, anyway, had been a girl, 
or two of them girls, just so long as I had both boys and 
girls. But once the baby was here, it didn't make any dif- 

"I do believe, though, that we have enjoyed the two 
younger ones more because they are so much more affec- 
tionate. Mark has always been rather cold. Then, of course, 
we have had to be after him a great deal. I can't believe 
that that has bothered him, though. He is so indifferent 
to whatever we say." 

"And the little boys?" I asked her. "Do they ever give 

"Oh, no, they get along almost like twins. Of course, 
they are too young for us to ask much of yet, but they 
have to help set the table and make the beds with me. 
Those are their jobs but they think of them as play. They 
are doing nicely at school, in the first and second grades. 
They haven't learned to read and pick up their numbers as 


quickly as Mark did, and he makes fun of them and of 
course that hurts their feelings. It does seem as if Mark 
actually hated them. He picks on them so," and the tears 
stood in her eyes. 

With this information and the telephoned summary 
from the teacher which gave the school picture just as the 
mother told it, I had my talk with the curly-headed young- 
ster with the sullen blue eyes. The blue eyes lighted up, 
however, as I brought out the various tests, called games 
or puzzles, which are an aid to every psychologist in un- 
derstanding her children. 

He fell upon the block puzzles first, and relaxed in the 
enjoyment of doing them. His active brain and sensitive 
hands earned him a high score. He did not know this, of 
course, but he did know that he was having a very good 
time chatting as he worked. He had read widely for his 
years, and had picked up much general information. He 
was going to be a lawyer. He dreamed a good deal, he 
said, was often chased by bears, big ones and little ones. 

Then came the question about home, the quick tears 
and the gasped-out story. It was difficult for me to keep a 
smile from marring the solemnity of the occasion, the 
boy's chubby fairness was so out of keeping with his woe 
and with his conviction of the validity of his ridiculously 
misplaced "proofs." Still, they were valid to him. His suf- 
fering was as worthy of sympathy and respect as though 
he were truly the outcast he thought himself. 

I saw that my task was to act as interpreter between 
Mark and his mother. If I succeeded, the rest would be 


chiefly standing on the sidelines and giving added courage 
by cheering, lap by lap, in the race toward mutual under- 

So I began. "Yes, I see just how you must feel, Mark. 
But do you know, it struck me, as you were telling me 
about it, that maybe there was another way of looking at 
it all. I know a lot of big brothers and big sisters, oldest in 
the family just as you are," I hurried on, as Mark looked 
doubtful. "And their fathers and mothers count on them 
a lot, just because they are big and understand so much 
more than the little ones and can do so much more than 
the little ones can. These fathers and mothers think of 
their oldest sons and daughters more like grown-ups, and 
the boys and girls like it. They think it is a compliment to 
be trusted with harder things than the babies. So as you 
were talking to me I kept thinking, What a big, respon- 
sible fellow his father and mother must consider Mark. 
They don't treat him a bit like a baby.' 

"And now I'm going to let you in on a little secret. 
When fathers and mothers love each other a great deal 
and their first baby comes to them, they have a special 
feeling for that baby that they do not have for the ones 
that come later. I don't mean that they love him more, but 
that they love him differently. He is so close to them. He 
is so new to them, for they have never had a baby before, 
and so exciting and so precious. They are a little used to 
babies by the time the second one comes. And right from 
the start, the moment the second one comes, they think of 
the first baby as more one of themselves, and count on his 


being big and helping them to get the younger babies to 
grow up right." 

The sobbing had ceased and the eyes looked eager. 

"Gee! Maybe I was all mistaken then? Maybe — maybe 
they do love me?" 

"I'm sure they love you and are proud of you." 

"Then why don't they pick me up and hug me the way 
they do Bun and Ken?" 

"Perhaps they think you are so big you wouldn't like 
it," I answered. "Perhaps they think you'd call that treat- 
ing you like a baby. It's mostly babies who sit on laps, and 
you're big, even for ten." 

Mark cogitated. This was an entirely new point of view 
to him. 

"Maybe you're right," finally came forth. 

"I wonder if you'd be willing to try something for a 
week," I asked him. "Go on home and act as if you were 
perfectly sure that your parents loved you as much as the 
other boys, and that you are proud that they treat you like 
a responsible, almost grown-up person. And if you get a 
chance, talk it all over with your father and mother, what 
we've been talking about here, and what you have been 
thinking. I might get a word to your mother about it, too, 
if you like." 

He was actually grinning by this time. 

"Sure I'll do it, and I'll be back next week and tell you 
how it works. Say, you don't know how much better I 

The next step, then, was to tell the mother the boy's 


story and as she listened it was not difficult to read from 
her expression, her gestures, her exclamations, the mixed 
emotions the story aroused. Incredulity came first. The boy 
thought he was being unfairly treated! Asked too much 
of? How could he think that, so much bigger than the 
two babies ! Not loved ? Absurd ! Then came a rush of pity. 
If he really believed that, then, of course, he must have 
felt badly. When I told her how he longed for the demon- 
strative affection that was showered upon the little boys, 
she again looked incredulous, then tears came to her eyes, 
as she began to realize the implications. 

But she was a courageous woman, and now that she had 
begun to see that she and her husband were not guiltless 
and the boy alone to blame, she faced herself and her re- 

"Help me to see the thing straight. Have I asked too 
much of him?" she asked. 

"Let me ask you another question first. When he does 
do the tasks you set him, what do you do ? What do you 

"Why, nothing! He's just done his duty. Surely you 
don't mean — Why, come to think of it, I do praise the 
little ones if they get the silver straight on the table and 
whatever they try to do to help. I encourage them, even if 
they don't do it perfectly. But Mark? Perhaps I don't 
praise him. I suppose I even scold him if the job isn't well 
done. I begin to see how it looks to him." 

"After all," I said, "a ten-year-old is only a child still, 
isn't he?" 


"But to think he's been believing we didn't love him! 
And we thinking that he was hard and cold! Is he jealous 
of his brothers? Is that why he fights with them all the 

"Isn't it natural he should be ? It isn't only that they get 
praise and encouragement for what they do, and caresses 
when they ask for them, but they take his things without 
permission and even if they misuse them, he knows he 
will only get scolded if he complains. He knows, too, that 
he gets scolded if they go to you with any complaint about 
him. He truly believes he hasn't a chance with you, against 
them. He is convinced of it and so it is true for him. He 
acts accordingly. He thinks he has no one to look after his 
interests but himself. He has to fight to protect himself, or 
he will be lost. He's thought he was a zero in the family, 
and yet he has succeeded in keeping you all very much 
aware of him, hasn't he ?" 

"I should say so! You tell me you've given him a hint 
about our considering him a big boy. I'll see to it that my 
husband gets this whole story and we'll both make it clear 
to Mark that we do love him." 

"Come back next week and tell me how things have 
gone. Remember, have patience. You can't expect the mil- 
lennium at once." 

A week later. A beaming mother and son entered, hand 
in hand. 
"It was all a big mistake I made," sang Mark joyously. 


"And they said they'd made a mistake too. They thought 
I didn't like hugging. Gee! They know better now!" 

"Home is a different place," said the mother after Mark 
had left. "I wouldn't have believed it possible. You know, 
his father and I could hardly get to sleep that night when 
we realized how we'd made that child suffer. The teacher 
tells me he's his old self again in school, too." 

"How is his attitude toward the little boys?" I asked. 

"Decidedly better, I should say. Not nearly so much 
quarreling, and I've made it my business not to jump in 
on the side of the little ones just because they are smaller. 
None of the three has come telling on each other so often 
the last few days, so they must be getting on better to- 
gether. I learned another lesson the first time I sided with 
Mark against Bunny. Bun acted as if the floor had col- 
lapsed under his feet. He'd been believing I'd help him 
get away with anything, I guess, and I suddenly saw what 
a bad thing it was for him to think he could treat his 
brother any way he pleases and that I'd uphold him. 
Wasn't it as bad for Bun and Ken to get that idea into 
their heads as it was for Mark to feel that he was discrimi- 
nated against ? And wouldn't they come to feel that Mark 
hadn't any rights and be scornful of him?" 

I was delighted that help with one child should have 
set her to thinking so constructively about all her children. 
She had even grasped the deeper truth that you cannot 
change one person in the family without changing the 
whole family, the relationships are so interwoven. 

"I think you've gotten hold of an important pair of 


principles there." I went on to say that the way children 
look at members of the family is apt to be the way they 
will later look at people outside the family. These spoiled 
younger children will expect all older children and older 
people to give in to them and protect them. Life will be 
easier for them if they start learning to give as well as 
take, right from the beginning. 

"Babies are naturally selfish, aren't they ?" remarked the 

"Perhaps self-centered or self-absorbed would express it 
better. None of the three words says just what I mean," I 
answered. "A baby isn't aware of any difference between 
himself and the outside world, except as he gradually 
learns it through experience. He isn't aware of anyone but 
himself. Other people are merely things to him, things he 
can use. But this isn't selfishness. It is only limited ex- 

"As he gains further experience he finds himself in con- 
flict with other people's needs and wants, and little by 
little he realizes that other people are like himself in want- 
ing things and that some adjustment on his part is neces- 
sary. The earlier he learns this the easier life will be, and 
the friendlier, happier and more useful a citizen he will 
become. This expanding point of view is important in un- 
derstanding both your younger children and Mark. 

"Now I want to emphasize the attitude of the older 
child toward the marauding baby. If the older child is 
scolded and punished for trying to protect his possessions 
from the baby, he is bound to be resentful toward both 


parents and baby, but chiefly toward the baby, since the 
baby is the cause of the unjust punishment. The jealousy 
and hate thus developed may last through life. And this 
will not be due to a jealous disposition, but to wrong train- 
ing in early childhood. 

"But don't look so worried. The very fact that you have 
seen this thing for yourself means that you will be on 
guard against it, even when you are not actually conscious 
of it." 

The mother looked somewhat reassured. 

"Now for two interesting things Mark said to me last 
week," I went on. "First, he told me that he often dreamed 
he was being chased by bears. That isn't a peaceful dream, 
is it? It showed an anxious, insecure state of mind. Many 
children dream of bears. I've often wondered if the story 
of 'The Three Bears' doesn't symbolize for children their 
own helplessness before the power of the grown-ups. The 
other revelation Mark made was his wanting to become a 
lawyer. Fairness, justice — that's what he's after, and now 
he's getting it. This will interest your husband. 

"And now, one last word. Don't lean too far the other 
way in regard to your treatment of the three children. Un- 
less something unusual develops, let me know in two 
weeks how things are going." 

Two weeks later Mark appeared alone. 

"Mother says to tell you everything is fine. It's all fine 
with me too, except for just one thing. Those kids think 
up everything they can to tease me. They hide my things. 
In the morning when it's time to get up I can't be ready 


on time because they've hidden my clothes and I have to 
hunt and hunt. I get mad and then they laugh and then 
we fight again. Or else they've hidden my school books 
or my papers." 

"That's certainly annoying. Perhaps I can give you a 
little bit of help. Teasing's only fun if the fellow you 
tease gets sore. If he acts as if he likes it, or doesn't even 
notice it, there's no use going on. Could you try that on 
the little boys?" 

Mark looked dubious, but was willing, he said, to try 
anything once. 

A few days later he was back, jubilant, accompanied by 
two other boys his age. 

"Say, it worked just swell, and I told these kids about 
it. They've got their troubles with kid brothers, too, and 
they asked to come along, so you'd give them some good 
dope same as you did me." 

Here was Mark showing again his deepest character 
trait, his longing for justice. This time, however, he had 
gone a step further. Not content with getting it for him- 
self alone, he was spreading it to others. In this he was 
like his mother, whose social feeling had led her to 
spread her new point of view to all her children. 

Mark's story is typical of the usual way parents handle 
the relationship of the older child to the younger. Mark 
had had seven years of it, ever since his brother was born. 
So had his parents. Seven years of habits of thought and 
habits of feeling, built up and up. 


When did Mark first feel jealousy? How did he act? 
His mother did not remember. Few people realize what 
is happening, what is the significance of this or that 
seemingly trivial event or remark in the early life of a 
child. Suppose Mark's mother had noticed and under- 
stood the very first time? What would it have meant to 

I was once present at such a moment in another child's 
development. I witnessed the small drama which was un- 
mistakable as the first big, intolerable situation of this 
particular child's life. 


Sally Ann was nearly two when her baby brother was 
born. Her parents had prepared her carefully for his com- 
ing. They did not want her to feel jealous or neglected. 
In other words, they did not want her to feel that she was 
a dethroned baby. 

They were old friends of mine. I had visited them for a 
few days before they had told Sally Ann about the new 
baby. We had talked about her and how she would be 
likely to feel when she was no longer the only center of 
interest in her home. 

"Just telling her that a new baby is coming, is not 
enough to ward off jealousy and suffering," I said, "for 
the word 'baby' does not mean the same thing to her 
that it does to us. She has always heard herself talked of 
as the baby. Naturally she will think that a new baby will 


be just like herself, as she is at this moment. So be sure 
that she understands how little and helpless he will be. 
Explain to her that she will no longer be the baby herself, 
but will be big sister, one of the older people who must 
take care of the baby. And talk about him as 'our baby.' 
Then she will feel she has a share in him just as you 

After Jimmie had come, the mother wrote me about 
Sally Ann's first sight of him. "It was at the hospital. 
Sally Ann was in her old place beside me, with my arm 
around her when the baby was brought in, and laid on 
my other side. Even with all our attempts to prepare her, 
she seemed astonished at him. I suppose nothing could 
have prepared her except the sight of another newborn 
baby, but we had not thought of that. She leaned over 
and patted him, and did not show any sign of jealousy. 
She screwed up her face as if to imitate him, and looked 
up at us and laughed. Since I'm home, we've seen to it 
that if one of us had Jimmie, the other always had Sally 
Ann. We talk about the fun it is to take care of him, and 
it is really a joy to see her bustling with importance at 
bath-time, trotting her legs off bringing talcum, sponges, 
towels and diapers. She hangs over the bathing and dress- 
ing operations absorbedly, and always calls him 'our 

When Jimmie was nine months old and Sally Ann two 
and a half, I visited them again. We were all sitting in the 
living room, drinking tea. Sally Ann's grandmother was 
with us, and Sally Ann was drinking imaginary tea from 


a tiny toy tea-set I had brought her. She was the same 
radiant baby I remembered — the most radiant baby I had 
ever known. 

Ever since my arrival an hour before, I had been wait- 
ing to see the two children together. Jimmie was having 
his nap and grandmother was tip-toeing back and forth, 
to see if he had awakened. 

Sally Ann was just pouring a second imaginary cupful 
which was to go to me, when grandmother's excited voice 
came from the baby's room. 

"Jimmie's pulled himself up in his crib! Come quick 
and see!" 

The mother and I rushed back to the nursery. There, 
in his crib, swaying but erect, stood Jimmie, clinging to 
the rail with one hand, but triumphantly waving a rattle 
in the other. His eyes were gleaming with a look that told 
us he realized that something important was happening 
to him. 

Suddenly a large ball flew past us, catching the baby 
full in the chest. Down he went. We turned, and saw a 
Sally Ann we did not know. A Sally Ann tense and grim 
with hate. 

Her mother went over to her. 

"Jimmie is very little and we must be gentle with him," 
she said quietly. She tried to fold the clenched fist in her 
hand, but Sally Ann jerked away and hurled a teddy 
bear at Jimmie. The teddy bear fell short. The mother 
spoke quietly again. For answer Sally Ann threw a wooden 
block which hit the railing of the crib. Jimmie howled. 


With one accord, mother and grandmother turned to 
me, knowing that behavior problems of children were 
my life work. I found myself kneeling beside the excited 
child, so that my head was on a level with hers. I slipped 
an arm around her and said, seizing on the first idea that 
came in my attempt to turn the situation into a construc- 
tive channel, "Jimmie's so wobbly he falls over when we 
throw hard things at him. How about throwing him 
something soft ? Here, we'll each give you a kiss and you 
throw it to him." I kissed her fingers. 

Her face broke into delight. She threw my kiss to the 
baby who had stopped wailing and had again pulled him- 
self up. This time he did not fall. Then the others joined 
in what had become a new game for Sally Ann. 

We elders went back to our tea, leaving the doors open 
so that we could keep an eye on the children, now each 
absorbed in his own affairs. 

"I was frightened," the grandmother said. "I've never 
seen her like that." 

"We've been so careful," said the mother. "Today was 
the first time in her life that she was forgotten." 

"The only way to understand why she behaved as she 
did," I said, "is to try to put ourselves into her place. If we 
can feel as she must have felt we'll find ourselves acting, 
in imagination, just as she acted. There was her party, 
where she'd been the center of the circle, spoiled. We ran 
away from her short legs in our rush to the nursery. Then 
in the nursery where all our eyes were on the baby — not 
a glance, not a thought for her— shut out by those three 


big figures around the crib! And the cause of it all? Jim- 
mie! Of course she was furious at this. Why shouldn't 
she be ? She has spirit. She'd fight. She refused to submit 
tamely to being made unhappy." 

"Unhappy!" echoed the grandmother. "I don't under- 
stand. Angry, I can see. But unhappy ?" 

"Bitterly, devastatingly unhappy, and I'll tell you why 
I know it!" 

Then I explained that deep down underneath, every 
naughty child is unhappy. He believes that things are go- 
ing wrong in his world. He may be utterly mistaken as 
to his facts, or his interpretation of his facts. But at his 
stage of experience what he believes is true for him. His 
naughtiness is his attempt, however futile, to fight off this 
intolerable situation. 

"But that isn't being really naughty," put in the mother, 
"to try to get one's world back into balance again by do- 
ing something about it." 

"Personally," I answered, "I have an admiration for 
naughty children for trying to do something about their 
troubles instead of moping. Laugh if you like, but I see 
them as heroic, if mistaken, little warriors. Going back to 
Sally Ann. She was forgotten for a moment. That is, it 
seemed a moment to us, but to her it meant forever; a 
baby's time-sense is so out of our focus. Her wrong focus 
was her mistake. And then, when we did look at her, how 
did we look ? Amazed and dismayed as we were, she must 
have felt more deserted than ever. But when we had 
kissed away the queer, tight feeling inside her, those mis- 


takes were straightened out. She found we did love her, 
and so she could be her old self, the big sister playing 
with Jimmie, all of us smiling at her instead of staring at 
her in that dreadful way. 

"And here is something else. She had come back into 
the family circle, but she was no longer its center. She 
was throwing the kisses to Jimmie, so he was as much a 
part of the circle as she. Each was a point on the circum- 
ference, as it were, with the circumference a link between 
them, while each of us was another point on the circum- 
ference, linked with them both. See how different that is 
from being the center of the circle?" 

"That makes me think we've overdone trying to keep 
Sally Ann from feeling neglected," said the mother. "She 
can't always have us with an arm around her. She'll have 
to learn to stand alone." 

"True, but at two-and-a-half you can't expect her to be 
cheerful about being ignored. She has had her first big 
lesson. She'll have others. Life will take care of that. It 
often seems to me that progress along the road toward 
maturity is marked by milestones of willingness to be 

"I see something else," continued the mother. "Love 
alone isn't enough. It must be a love that is willing to set 
free and not try to keep dependent." 

"You don't mean to say you're going to be one of those 
modern mothers who lets her child run wild!" exclaimed 
the grandmother. 

"That she'd never do," I said. "But there are dangers: 


the danger of setting a child free too soon, and the danger 
of giving too much freedom. Dr. Maria Montessori gives 
a striking illustration of this. In one of her schools the 
children had a hen with baby chicks in a coop in a small 
enclosure. The children were afraid the chicks did not 
have enough space to play in, so they opened the gate and 
let the chicks out into the big pasture. A sudden storm 
came up. Only a few chicks responded to the calls of their 
mother. Next day the drowned bodies of the other chicks 
were found. Unlimited liberty was not freedom to them. 
It was death. That's the answer to those parents who 
think they should let a child express himself entirely 
unchecked. Dr. Montessori has definite checks: first, no 
action that runs counter to reasonable consideration for 
other people; next, insistence upon the child's putting 
away his work or play material when he has finished 
with it, even if you have to help a little. Third, no action 
that brings danger to the child or to others." 

Sally Ann ran back to us, and recommenced pouring 
her imaginary tea, when smash went one of the tiny cups. 
The corners of her mouth began to droop, but her mother 
merely said, "Run get your broom and dustpan. Let's 
sweep it up!" and of! scurried Sally Ann, returning with 
the tiny implements and forgetting her loss in the joy of a 
new activity. 

The incident passed off apparently with no emotion, 
and was not referred to until four months later, when I 
was again in town and had come to see the children. 
Sally Ann's first words to me were, 


! "Oh, auntie, I broke my teacup!" 

Is it farfetched to wonder whether the sight of me re- 
called to her something she did not want to remember — 
ugly feelings about her baby brother? And whether, in 
consequence, unaware even to herself, she recalled, in- 
stead, an incident connected with it that did not have such 
emotions? Could that be the reason why so many of us, 
in thinking back over our childhood, remember insig- 
nificant events and utterly forget important ones? 

Sally Ann was a fortunate child, well-born, wisely 
reared, healthy and happy. Yet she met intolerable situ- 
ations, as all children must. Such situations are part of 
life. To conquer them, or at least to make them bearable, 
a child must learn how to take them. Otherwise the over- 
whelmed or bewildered or destructive way, the childish 
way, may persist as a habit through life. But to meet a 
difficulty with courage, a child needs help. He needs an 
interpretation of the difficulty which experience alone can 
give, and experience is what he almost totally lacks. 

Sally Ann's family came to the aid of her inexperience. 
She was not considered naughty. She was made to feel 

Of course even the most intelligent parents make mis- 
takes. Alfred Adler says, "We are all human beings and 
we will always make mistakes. The best we can do is to 
replace bigger mistakes by smaller mistakes." The parent 
who is willing to admit his mistakes, and to grow up day 
by day with his children, learning from them, need not 


fear his responsibilities. He can enter into the enjoyment 
of his children. After all, most of us have grown up fairly 
well, though we may not realize all our own possibilities. 

Sally Ann's parents were able to defer their little girl's 
first big intolerable situation unusually long. Of course 
she had had many minor ones before that. There was the 
first time she was denied the shining thing she reached 
for. There was weaning. The life of an infant is a series 
of weanings from things he has learned to count on abso- 
lutely. It is a series of unlearnings. The weaning from the 
position of only child had been met with Sally Ann with- 
out allowing her to feel thrust out. Yet now there existed 
in her world an individual who at any moment might 
assert himself to eclipse her. 

Sally Ann's mother had the wisdom to look forward. 
"She can't always have an arm around her," she said. 
"She'll have to learn to stand alone." 

How was the mother to lead Sally Ann to that goal? 
There was many a difficult situation to be met in that 
future which her mother was imagining. Jimmie would 
widen his achievements. There was school to be faced. 
There were hundreds and hundreds of first times ahead, 
and unpredictable menaces, possibly illness. There was 
even the test which was lying in wait in success. Jimmie, 
too, would have his share of struggles and triumphs. 

I have put down some of the later experiences of Sally 
Ann and Jimmie and distributed them through the book 
alongside the similar situations as met by other children. 
There you can read partial answers to the questions, 


"How far have Sally Ann and Jimmie succeeded in grow- 
ing up?" and "Did their father and mother understand 
them well enough to help?" 


"See what a fighter this baby is!" 

The speaker was a small, pasty-faced man, extremely 
dapper as to clothes, and carrying a husky year-old baby. 
He burst open the door and swung truculently into the 
playroom of the Guidance Clinic, followed timidly by a 
large, flabby woman with a cross-eyed three-year-old 
clinging to her skirt. 

The baby's face was red and his fists were beating the 
air in the direction of the brother, who shrank as far as he 
could from sight. 

"You the doctor?" the man demanded of Miss Clark, 
the home visitor, in charge of the playroom. "I'm here 
because she" pointing to his wife with a twitch of his 
shoulder, "wouldn't come alone and those women at the 
nursery school said you could help her with Timothy 

He pulled the three-year-old from behind his mother, 
and thrust him forward. The child stood hanging his 
head and blinking. 

"I've no use myself," the father went on, "for any of 
this new-fangled psychology business, but the wife 
wanted to come." 

"The doctor will see you before long. I'll tell her you 


are here," Miss Clark said. "Meanwhile I'll get Timothy 
interested in some of our toys, so we can be free to talk 
and you can tell me about him. I'm Miss Clark, the home 

The baby made a sudden grab for Timothy. 

"See what a fighter he is!" repeated the father, lung- 
ing the baby down toward Timothy. The baby's eyes 
snapped, his fists clenched and he made for his brother, 
who clearly wanted to pitch in and take up the challenge, 
but was too shy to do so in strange surroundings. Sud- 
denly Timothy dropped his mother's skirt and began run- 
ning around the room. 

"Tim was a fighter too, when he was a baby," contin- 
ued the father. "Nothing the matter with him. Just a lot 
of old maid school teachers, you know." 

"What are they worrying about?" 

"Why, the boy's only three years old and kind of wild. 
He'll outgrow it. The teacher says he keeps running the 
way he is now, and never settles down, and — and" he 
hesitated, reddening, then hastily went on, "he never asks 
to go to the bathroom." 

"Does he ask at home?" 

"I was just telling you, he's only three. He'll ask when 
he's old enough. Anyhow they don't have to wash his 
clothes. But they got my wife to worrying and — yes, 
Annie, I'm coming to that," as she poked him, "he's dis- 
obedient and he's fresh and he's mean. He has to be shut 
in the closet whenever he's in the same room as the baby 
or he'll hurt him. His mother's too easy-going, I always 


say, but she whacks him sometimes and then he just goes 
up and punches the baby again or grabs at his hair. The 
baby is a spunky little devil. Wait till he's two years old 
and Tim'll have to look out." 
"How long has he been acting this way?" 
"About a year. Tantrums, too, but I like my boys to 
have a spice of temper. The oldest one's not got enough to 
suit me. We lick 'em of course. Can't let 'em get away 
with it, can we! Tim's the most trouble of any of the 
four, but he's wild yet." 
Here the mother spoke for the first time: 
"Everybody's children are disobedient. Everybody's 
children get mad," she murmured. 

As they talked Miss Clark had been carefully watching 
Tim's gyrations about the room. He paid no attention to 
any of the toys, but merely ran about in little spurts, slip- 
ping up to tease the baby or actually to attack him when- 
ever he thought no one was looking. As he met Miss 
Clark's eye he would veer off. Once he stopped in a 
corner and without any attempt at concealment began 
playing with himself. The parents did not seem to notice. 
Meanwhile Miss Clark asked about the other children 
in the family and learned that there was a boy of twelve, 
in the seventh grade, and a girl of seven in the second, 
both doing well. They had never caused anxiety. Timothy 
got along well enough with the children on the block. 
The mother had recently sent him to the nearest school, 
by chance an excellent nursery school. She did this, she 
admitted, to get rid of him for part of the day. 


It was the nursery school director who had written us 
for an appointment for the parents, outlining her obser- 
vations as follows: both mother and child seemed dull to 
the school staff. During the two weeks he had been with 
them, he had taken no part in any of the activities, had 
never spoken, never had become interested in anything 
except aimless running. At times he would slip his hand 
inside his trousers and finger himself. The teachers noted 
that he was a stocky child, flabby rather than fat, badly 
cross-eyed, and very, very shy whenever he was con- 
fronted with a living person, whether child or adult. 
This shyness seemed to be the cause of his hanging his 
head and peering out from under in curious fashion. 
These things, together with his failure to go to the bath- 
room, had caused the staff to wonder, unable as they were 
to break through his shell, if there might not be some 
mental defect. 

By the time I had finished my interview with another 
parent, Miss Clark had received a vivid impression of the 
child- training methods of Timothy's father and mother. 
Both were fond of their children and proud of them, but 
their idea of playing with them was to tease them. Then, 
when the children got excited and obstreperous, or when 
they began to cry, they punished them. Both father and 
mother thought Tim's desperate jealousy was amusing. 
The father made a practise of picking up the baby when 
he came home and making a great fuss over him for the 
fun of seeing Tim rush madly in and try to pull the baby 


out of his arms. As the father talked, the wife smiled 

When I came into the playroom the father made a grab 
at Timothy who was scampering by and egged the baby 
on to spar with him for my benefit, remarking again, 

"See what a fighter this baby is!" 

"Come and see my games," I suggested to Timothy and 
he went with me without a word. I always begin the in- 
telligence tests with those that seem like games to the 
children, and when they are thoroughly enjoying them- 
selves, I give the "puzzles" that require words in answer. 
Three-year-olds need very few words. Most of the tests 
are with pencil, blocks or pictures. Tim did well. He 
showed ability in every way. He made remarks from time 
to time in clear English about the "game" of the moment. 
After that it was easy to talk to him about his dignity as 
a big boy going off to school while the baby was still so 
little that people had to stay at home to take care of him. 
He accepted this and also accepted with solemn eagerness 
the star chart to take to his teacher. On it she was to paste 
a beautiful gold star every time he asked to go to the 
bathroom. There were spaces for two weeks and at the 
end of each week he was to bring it back to us to show 
how much bigger and stronger he'd grown. Babies only 
two didn't know enough to ask, but he, of course, was 
big. He was three. The stars were to be given during 
these first weeks merely for asking to go to the toilet. 
That was a sufficient step for this time. Later the stars 


would be for attempts to get to the bathroom in time. 
And the chart would be made out for four weeks instead 
of two. 

He was also told that such a big boy as he was, helps 
to take care of the baby. He doesn't tease him. Even if the 
baby wanted to fight, the big brother could teach him 
better games and they could have good times together. 
Tiny babies needed lots of care from big people, I added 
casually. Tim's mother and dad had petted him and 
played with him when he was little iust the same as they 
now did with the baby. 

Nothing was said about a star chart for being good to 
the baby. One chart at a time was enough. No direct re- 
mark was made to him about having hurt the baby. In- 
direct suggestion is often enough and has the further 
inestimable value of not criticizing the child or injuring 
his self-respect. 

There was something else besides. If his attitude to- 
ward his parents could be changed, if he could be made 
to believe that they did love him even though there was 
a new baby, he would stop feeling anger at the baby and 
revenge toward his parents. His violent behavior had ap- 
peared about a year before — the time of the new baby's 
birth. It was very clear to me, from seeing many a de- 
throned baby in action, that it was despair at finding him- 
self apparently forgotten and unloved that led him to cru- 
elty, to tantrums and to disobedience. 

The parents showed no interest when they came into 
the office to hear what the tests had told me about Tim- 


othy. The father again did all the talking. Of course their 
child was intelligent. Why shouldn't he be? They did 
not need to come to an outsider to learn that. If he was 
jealous, he was jealous and that was all there was to it. 
If he was naughty, he had to be punished. Surely a child 
should not be pampered when he was naughty! 

"But he is so unhappy. You don't want your little boy 
to be unhappy, do you?" said I, thinking to throw a 
bombshell into the midst of his complacency. 

"Unhappy! What's he got to be unhappy about? He 
just doesn't like being punished." 

"He thinks he's being punished so much because you 
don't love him any more since the baby came." 

"Nonsense. All he's got to do is to be good to the baby. 
Then the punishing would stop." Mother nodded in 
agreement with her lord. 

I began to explain more fully. Then I ended, "I'm sure 
that if you both make a point of petting and playing with 
him more, his naughtiness will disappear by itself." 

"And I'm sure it won't," came belligerently from the 
master of the household. "Excuse me, but are you mar- 
ried ? Have you any children ? No, I thought you hadn't, 
from the way you talked. You don't understand that boy. 
He's jealous and he's mean. If he's scared enough of get- 
ting licked he'll behave and then it'll be time to show him 
we love him. Why!" sputtering, "we keep telling him no 
one loves a naughty boy!" 

Realizing his closed attitude, I decided not to make 
matters worse by mentioning Timothy's masturbation, or 


fingering himself, as he called it. That could be left for a 
later occasion, partly because I was sure the parents would 
be outraged at this stage, and also because masturbation 
at that age tends to disappear of itself as the parents be- 
come more considerate and the child feels less lost, less 
utterly miserable. Some masturbation, exploratory mas- 
turbation, as the baby discovers the geography of his 
body, is very common in young children and disappears 
of itself as interests widen. No need of alarming the par- 
ents or of antagonizing them. So I plunged into what I 
thought would be a less disturbing subject. 

"About his eyes," I said hastily. "What does your doc- 
tor say?" 

"Doctor! Tim hasn't needed a doctor since he was born. 
There's nothing to go to a doctor for. The teacher keeps 
harping on that too. Squints run in my wife's family. 
It's Tim's hard luck to get it. When he's old enough to 
take care of glasses I'll get some for him." 

"But, father," put in the mother timidly. 

"Now, mother, I'll take care of this. I don't want you 
ladies to think I don't appreciate that you've been doing 
your best for us, according to your lights. But parents 
know their own children better than any outsider can, 
especially mothers. I trust mothers, and I leave everything 
to this mother here," looking splendidly down at his wife, 
who fluttered at his praise. 

The man seemed completely self-satisfied. Possibly a 
dent had been made in the mother. Her "But, father" had 


given some hope and I left further suggestions for an- 
other time. 

Thinking over the entire situation, the father's smug 
self-sufficiency emerged head and shoulders over every- 
thing else. He was an assistant book-keeper in a large cor- 
poration, a tiny speck in its vastness. Remembering this 
and also his small size, especially as he stood beside his 
much larger wife, one might hazard the guess that he was 
trying, in his home, to bolster up his masculine self- 
respect by lording it over someone. In his business life he 
dared not be authoritative. When we challenged his 
methods of dealing with Timothy we were battering 
upon the walls of his belief in himself. Naturally he could 
not listen to us when we suggested that he was making a 
mistake. It takes courage to give up such a cherished 

It would also be in character for him to assert that the 
two older children had never caused anxiety. He was not 
willing to admit that his children could have any prob- 
lems. Perhaps also, when these two were small, the par- 
ents, younger, and with fewer demands on their time 
and patience, were able to be more consistent in their 
training. It is frequently found that parents have used up 
all their energy in training the older children and regard 
the younger ones with more the attitude of grandparents, 
enjoying them and letting them grow up as best they can. 

Tim got the star chart safely to school and had three 
gold stars at the end of the first week. Miss Clark, visiting 
him at school, waxed enthusiastic to the little boy over 


his "bigness." He greeted her with the eagerness of an old 
friend, bringing his drawing for her to see. 

As a matter of fact, the parents never came to us again, 
and Miss Clark, when she paid the home visit, was po- 
litely but firmly repulsed. 

We could still keep in touch with Timothy through the 
nursery school which had sent him to us. We were fortu- 
nate in this. A nursery school implies the presence of spe- 
cially trained and understanding teachers from whom we 
could expect complete cooperation. 

Now that the teachers of Timothy's nursery school had 
learned from us what the home situation was, they saw 
that Timothy's appreciation of himself as a worthwhile 
person must come at present through his school life. They 
noticed that he began to respond to praise and that from 
time to time he came out of his shell and joined the 
group. They redoubled their efforts and at the end of the 
year reported that wetting seldom occurred, and only 
when he was absorbed in some activity; also that the shy- 
ness and masturbation had completely disappeared. 

For a child with a bad start and teasing, uncooperative 
parents, Timothy was fortunate. He had little friends in 
the neighborhood who liked him. There was the luck of 
„a near-by nursery school, for his mother would hardly 
have heard of one otherwise. So long as he has teachers 
-who understand him he should keep on improving. 

Timothy's story has been told for two reasons: first, to 
:show the harm to character and happiness that teasing 


can do. Second, to stress the fact that even with parents 
as blind as his, he was not beyond help. It is true that a 
child develops best when he is sure that his parents love 
him and believe in him. But understanding and appreci- 
ation, wherever found, provide human nature with soil 
for growing. To Timothy, this understanding came in his 
school and he proceeded to develop well. Bob and Isabel, 
whose stories come later, found their first appreciation 
among undesirable children. They developed, too, but 
badly, until they came under the more wholesome under- 
standing of the staff of a guidance clinic, and, in Isabel's 
case, of the Children's House. 


Shy, nine-year-old Elizabeth suddenly became articulate. 
We had been sitting together in my office, working on 

"I just hate myself when I get so mad," she burst forth. 
"It frightens me too. And I use such awful words. I heard 
a girl say 'em once and they keep coming into my head." 

"Could you tell me what they are?" I asked. "I might 
be able to help you." 

"I'd be ashamed." 

"Write them, then. We all know lots of ugly words, 
even if we don't say them." 

She wrote them, "damns," and "big boobs" and "go to 
hells." Then she looked up and said, 

"I call mother and father those names when I'm mad, 


and they send me to my room and I'm so mad I slam the 

Elizabeth's voice had risen, as it often did, from a whis- 
per to a startling boom, strangely mature, like that of a 
large, heavy woman. She went on booming, 

"I slam the door as hard as I can and they call me back 
and make me shut it quietly and I call them names again." 

"How does banging the door make you feel?" 

"Better," succinctly. 

"I've an idea. How's this, Elizabeth ? Let's ask your par- 
ents to allow you to slam the door as hard as you like 
when you get mad, so as to get rid of the temper, and you 
slam it and get out of the room before you have a chance 
to let loose those names. How does that strike you ?" 

Elizabeth's eyes opened wide. She stopped the twisting 
which had gone on almost continuously through every 
visit to me so far — a twisting of hair, fingers, neck and a 
body that was the longest and lankiest I had ever seen on 
a nine-year-old. 

Elizabeth was like Alice in Wonderland after she had 
finished the bottle labeled "drink me." — all neck and legs 
and arms with a small wondering face on top and a shin- 
ing mass of glorious black hair. Rages were the last thing 
I would have associated with her at first glance, her shy- 
ness was so painful. 

She had made three tongue-tied visits before her sudden 
confession of swearing and slamming. My suggestion that 
her door-slamming might actually be done with permis- 
sion astonished her. 


"Do you think they'd let me?" she said slowly. "It 
would help, lots." 

"I think they'll do it if I ask them, don't you?" 

She became jubilant. "Of course they will. Can we tele- 
phone mother right this minute?" 

She leaned over me excitedly as I took down the tele- 
phone and gave the number. Mrs. Boyce was at home and 
I handed the receiver to Elizabeth after saying, "Eliza- 
beth and I have a plan to talk over with you." 

An excited but happy babble was poured into the 
mother's ears. It did not sound completely intelligible to 
me, but Elizabeth said happily as she hung up the re- 

"Mother says if it's all right with you it's all right with 

Soon after Elizabeth had started home her mother rang 
up again to find out just what the child had meant. She 
was much amused and touched at the plan, and agreed 
to get her husband's consent also. 

The results were beyond expectation. Elizabeth would 
suddenly make for the door, slam it hard, disappear for 
a second, and then reappear, smiling. As time went on, 
the slamming grew less frequent and so did the wild 
anger spells. Not only did Elizabeth work off her feelings 
on the door, but slamming did seem a bit pointless when 
it ceased to annoy. 

Further than that, the child was taking a voluntary part 
in curing her own fault, while the parents were involved 


in a plan of cooperating with her instead of fighting 
against her. 

The parents were much impressed with the success of 
this technique, so that we had made a beginning, but only 
a beginning. 

I knew from the mother's story, told me before I ever 
saw the child, that these rages of Elizabeth's were habitual 
and extremely serious. From the child's own confession 
I learned how helpless she felt in them, for they made her 
hate and fear herself and thus deepened her pitiful self- 

It was evident that Elizabeth felt a deep-seated griev- 
ance against her parents for which she' was angrily trying 
to punish them. What this grievance was and how her 
anger had got beyond her own control were questions 
which had to be gone into thoroughly with the child's 
parents before there could be any permanent help. 

Most of the needed clues had been given me by the 
mother in the first interview, before I saw the daughter. 

Elizabeth's mother was a sensitive and highly educated 
woman whose outstanding feature was a particularly rich 
and beautifully modulated voice, in startling contrast to 
Elizabeth's boom. She had come to consult me because, 
she said, Elizabeth was failing in the fourth grade on ac- 
count of her arithmetic which she simply could not do. 
No one could make her understand it. Besides, the child 
flew into such wild rages at any attempt to teach her, or 
indeed at any obstacle or imagined slight or criticism, that 
her parents were terrified and utterly at a loss. 


"Tell me all about her," I said, "how the rages started, 
about her babyhood, how she gets on with people in the 
family and out, and whatever stumbling blocks you have 

"She was our first child, and a very fragile baby," an- 
swered the mother. "The doctors gave us little hope of 
raising her. For the first two months we couldn't find any 
food that would agree with her. She was starving before 
our eyes. Finally we did find the right food but we had 
been so alarmed that we tended her like a hot-house plant 
and she was queen of the household, and not an agreeable 
queen, I assure you. She demanded a great deal and was 
vociferous if any demand were not complied with promptly 
and efficiently." 

"Just what do you mean by vociferous ? Did she always 
have these tantrums?" I asked. 

"She would always shriek when she wanted things, and 
we would hurry to satisfy her, afraid to let her cry. Her 
present wild temper, however, did not develop until after 
our little boy was born, a year ago, when Elizabeth was 
almost eight. 

"He is all sunshine and the entire neighborhood adores 
him. Elizabeth is devotion itself to him and always wants 
to be allowed to take him out in his carriage or hold him 
by the hand now he is toddling." 

"Does she ever get impatient with him?" 

"Usually after she has been playing with him for some 
time. She gets tired and ends by teasing him and making 
him cry. She does complain that he grabs her things and 


spoils them, but of course, I try to make her realize how 
little he is and how good she must be to him." 

I made a mental note. The mother had given me six 
clues in about as many minutes. 

"About the family," the mother went on. "We are both 
college trained. Mr. Boyce is a lawyer and I taught in 
High School before I married. I do not remember my 
parents. They died when I was small and I was brought 
up by my grandmother who has been dead for several 
years. She was not a demonstrative woman and I looked 
forward to marriage for affection. My husband had some- 
what the same experience, although his mother is still 
alive. She was and is a dominant influence in his life and 
now in ours, because of her effect on him. She is unrea- 
sonable and demanding and drove all of her children 
away from her. Above all they hated her voice, which is 
unusually loud and harsh. Unfortunately, Elizabeth has 
inherited it. I do not think it can be direct imitation, be- 
cause my husband dislikes her so strongly that we see very 
little of her. He wants different childhood memories for 
his own children, and has accordingly swung completely 
over to the opposite direction. Now he cannot understand 
why Elizabeth should fly into a rage at him when he has 
been so undemanding of her. He forgets that she irritates 
him at times, especially when her voice reminds him of 
his mother, and then he loses patience and speaks sharply. 

"However, he's spoiled her so completely that I lean 
over backwards in sternness to keep the balance. Maybe 
that's why I seem to be the special object of her wrath. 


Often I can't imagine what it is that irritates her. By the 
way, I'm here against her father's wishes. He feels dis- 
graced because we cannot manage our own child." 

"What do you each do when trying to maintain dis- 

"He leaves the tantrums to me, for he gets so angry 
at her he does not trust himself. Then, if I cannot quiet 
her at once, he turns on me." 

"Before the child?" 

"Yes, and that does not make my task any easier. He 
never agrees with my methods, yet he goes up in the air 
when I ask him to suggest alternatives. He says that that 
is my responsibility. My methods are to send her to her 
room, or to try to reason with her calmly, taking pains 
to keep my voice low, and sometimes, in fact, generally, 
I end by throwing a pitcher of water over her, regardless 
of furniture, clothes or even beds. The cold dousing brings 
her out of the tantrums as nothing else will. Indeed, it 
works so well that if it had not been for the arithmetic, 
I should not have thought of coming to you." 

Here I made a mental note of the seventh clue: open 
disagreement between parents as to methods of dealing 
with their children may cause a child to play one parent 
against the other, or he may feel bewildered and upset, 
or he may exult in being the cause of excitement, or there 
may be any combination of these. In any case, clashes of 
opinion between parents are always part of the reasons for 
upsets in the children. 

The mother went on: "Her father has tried to help her 


with the arithmetic, but he does not use present-day 
methods, and only bewilders her the more. He is too im- 
patient to teach, anyhow. I'm better, but she was so restive 
and flared up so unbearably that I had to give it up. The 
tutors I've engaged find the same difficulty." 

"When did she start school?" 

"She went to the kindergarten of a private school when 
she was three. There were no nursery schools available. 
She stayed in that school until this fall. She learned to 
read quickly and devoured books. However, she would 
only read, not study. Her memory stood her in good stead. 
This year, when she was to enter the fourth grade, we 
wanted her to have public school experience. We had not 
realized that under the easy methods of private school she 
had been able to evade all the arithmetic, and still get by. 
When she was faced with long division on her first day, 
she found herself helpless." 

"And then what happened?" 

"She howled for help, and when she could not under- 
stand the explanations at once, she refused to listen and 
went into a tantrum. Finally they told me she couldn't 
even add or subtract. I went to the private school and 
asked how she had gotten the marks on her report card. 
They finally confessed that they had always helped her, 
fearing her outbursts of temper." 

"How does she get along with other children?" 

"Very badly. She gets angry when they won't do what 
she wants, and they retaliate by taunting and teasing her, 
especially about her gawky appearance." 


"Has she always been large for her age?" 
"Yes, she was long and lanky when she was born, like 
her father. But she has grown particularly fast the last 
two years. Don't you think her size, and the attention it 
has caused have been bad for her ? People are always mak- 
ing remarks about it in her hearing." 

"Indeed I do; any of us would be made miserably self- 
conscious and probably irritated." 

"Then, too, everyone, even my husband and myself, for- 
gets she's only nine, and expect as much of her as of a 
twelve-year-old. Some think she is even fourteen. My 
neighbors always treat her as if she were older than their 
children, though she is actually the youngest by several 
months, and they hold her responsible for all the diffi- 
"Are the neighbors necessarily permanent?" 
"Yes, unfortunately. There are no rented houses in our 
part of town, and no fences between the gardens. Both the 
little girls next door taunt Elizabeth, and the only remedy 
would be for us to give up our home and go elsewhere." 
"Is Elizabeth interested in helping about the house?" 
"She does more than any of the neighbors' children do. 
I have her take care of her own room, with some help. 
The maid could do it, but I think children should not be 
brought up to feel dependent on servants. Elizabeth was 
very proud at first of being allowed to take care of her 
own room, but now the two little wretches next door tell 
her that she's doing the maid's work and make fun of 
her. She wanted to stop at once, and I wouldn't let her, 


so there have been frequent storms. I tried to stiffen her 
backbone, but she persists in over-valuing their opinion, 
even though it crushes her." 

"I've a clear picture of Elizabeth now. I'll see her 
Wednesday, go through the tests and follow up what- 
ever they bring out. The arithmetic I can take care of. 
I'll use that as a means of making friends with her. As 
soon as I've won her confidence, I'll talk with you again." 

On Wednesday Elizabeth appeared for her first visit. 
In her anguish at meeting a stranger in a strange place 
she writhed down the corridor like a slender snake, in her 
pale green dress. Everything embarrassed her. She kept 
on writhing as she played the "games." There were mo- 
ments when she was quietly absorbed, but for the most 
part she twisted handkerchief, fingers, mouth, hair, body 
and long legs. Her voice would grow loud, then fade 
away until it could not be heard. At any question her head 
would droop and she would twist more violently. 

She made a good showing on the tests, and even the 
nine-year-old change-making did not bother her, although 
she added a revealing "about" to each response. "About 
six cents," "About three," she answered. She spoke as far 
as possible in monosyllables. 

"What's the hardest thing for you in school?" I asked 
finally. Her head drooped. "Arithmetic," she murmured. 

"How queer!" I exclaimed. "You've done so well in the 
arithmetic part of these games." 

"But you didn't give me any arithmetic. I can't do arith- 


"You told me how much change you'd get back from a 

"Oh, but that's change. I do lots of errands for my 

"I see, of course. Do you like to help your mother?" 

Her answer was too low to be heard. This was too 
tender a subject to talk about just yet. I tried the little 
brother. She brightened for a moment, then drooped 
again. So I told her I'd like to help her in arithmetic. "I'm 
good at helping, you know. I've helped a lot of children 
who thought they never could understand it." 

"My father and my teacher say I just haven't an arith- 
metic head." 

"Would you like to be able to do it?" 

"I don't care." 

"I know one thing," said I. "If you can make change 
you can do arithmetic, because that's all that making 
change is." 

She looked at me in astonishment. 

"Yes, it's only subtracting and adding and you did it 
exactly right. Tell me again, if you bought six cents' 
worth of candy and gave the man ten cents, how much 
change would he give you back?" 

"About four cents." 

"Not exactly four?" 

"Maybe it was that time." 

"Isn't it always?" 

"Why no, of course not." 


So that was the cause of her difficulty. She did not 
realize that number is fixed, that one is always one, and 
ten, ten. That was the first thing to convince her of. It did 
not take long. From there we went on, quite easily, and 
she openly rejoiced as she found that she knew what 
she was doing. 

At last the confidence accorded me for the arithmetic 
spread over into other fields. The child made her confes- 
sion of the tantrums, which were evidently worrying her 
as much as they did her parents. It was easy enough to get 
Mrs. Boyce's cooperation after the success of the door- 
slamming. She accepted my interpretation of the causes 
of the child's behavior. But it was particularly desirable 
to gain the father's help across the barrier of his under- 
standable masculine pride. 

Mrs. Boyce invited me to dinner. Mr. Boyce questioned 
me and suddenly became deeply interested. After Eliza- 
beth had gone to bed, he brought up the subject of her 
possible jealousy of the baby, mentioned to him by his 

"I can hardly swallow that," he said. "She's devoted to 
him. It's her best trait." 

"That may be because she is just," I answered. "She ac- 
cepts the baby as innocent of wronging her. But if you 
want to find out who she thinks has done so, ask yourself 
whom she attacks. Isn't it you and your wife?" 

He nodded and I went on: "The mother of the baby 
who has supplanted her is the worst criminal and the 
father the next." 


As Mr. Boyce looked uncomfortably toward his wife 
I hastened on: 

"Do you think she has ever heard any remarks about 
the importance of your having a son at last, or that it was 
too bad the boy couldn't be the oldest?" 

"It's possible," he admitted. "People are always saying 
it. But she's usually deep in a book. She doesn't listen to 
us. Still — it's true. We have said it. Do you think it's 
possible that she could be jealous because the baby is 
a boy?" 

"If she has absorbed the idea that you and her mother 
think boys are worth more than girls, it is sure to have 
some kind of effect on her. Most grown-ups let children 
know that that is their opinion and I'm always seeing 
the result in the people I meet, adults as well as children. 
Do you think she ever felt she was forgotten in your 
interest in the baby?" 

"She might have. Yes, I suppose there were many times. 
Strange we never thought of that before. And is all this 
the new psychology ? I'm really interested." 

"It's such live stuff, isn't it!" I answered eagerly. "The 
old academic psychology was so dead. This opens your 
eyes, as you say." 

I caught his wife's glance behind his range of vision. 
Her lips moved soundlessly. "Tell him what you told 

"Perhaps you'd be interested in hearing just what clues 
there were in your wife's first few minutes' talk with 
me?" I asked him. 


"I certainly would, if you don't mind giving your magic 
away," he answered. 

"No magic about it. Mrs. Boyce gave me other clues 
later, such as Elizabeth's looking older than she is. But 
in the first few minutes there were six. First, I learned 
that as Elizabeth had been frail as a baby, you both had 
naturally been anxious about her. That means spoiling, 
usually, and she confirmed that by saying that the child 
got what she wanted by screaming. Then there are the 
eight years' difference between her and the baby. That 
meant she had had the habit long built in of being your 
only interest at home. Third, the baby was a boy, and as 
you have admitted, she must have heard much about the 
value of boys as compared to girls. Next, the tempers were 
never so bad until after his birth. That showed that, 
dearly as she loved him, she felt robbed of much of her 
place with you. Then, he was loved in the neighborhood 
and she was not. Finally, the last clue came when Mrs. 
Boyce said that the baby was allowed to take Elizabeth's 
things, and she must not rescue them, even if he spoiled 
them, because he was little and she big. That meant that 
she was unjustly treated, because her rights should have 
been considered too." 

"And I had not thought for an instant of the harm it 
was doing the baby, either," broke in the mother. 

"That's a lot to think about," said the father. "So you 
evidently believe our girl's not so bad after all? At least, 
that she's had reason to act as she did?" 


"How quick you are to grasp the essentials! Yes, she's 
had reason to act as she did, several reasons, in fact." 

I did not want to explain to Mr. Boyce at this juncture, 
his own particular contribution to Elizabeth's behavior, 
when he stormed at her, and when he flouted her mother's 
methods before her. That would be too painful and would 
have to come later and more gradually. He was in enough 
of a painful position at the moment. He had hoped and 
tried to make his little girl happier than he had been as 
a child, yet she was not only constantly unhappy, but 
showing the traits that he had so disliked in his mother. 
So I merely clarified as well as I could the points I had 
already made. 

"Put yourself in her place," I said, "and see what you'd 
do if you had had eight years' experience that screaming 
was the way to get what you wanted. Remember that 
crying for what he needs is the baby's first key to power. 
Elizabeth never needed to learn another method of get- 
ting her desires, so long as this one worked. You and your 
wife were young and worried and you couldn't foresee 
the result. So for eight years Elizabeth had no other way 
of meeting life whenever it presented a difficulty except 
by a tantrum. Running away is another method. Gritting 
teeth and fighting through is another. Most children soon 
learn that the tantrum way and the running away way are 
babyish and never get them anywhere. Special circum- 
stances can keep a person from realizing this and so he 
continues in his old way until some obstacle comes along 


that he cannot remove. Elizabeth's overwhelming obstacle 
came along — the baby. She couldn't remove him by scream- 
ing. She had lost her unique place with you and nothing 
could get it back. She couldn't help but recognize that the 
baby was sweeter than she and that he was a comfort to 
you where she was an irritation. 

"With her child logic she saw him always enjoyed and 
herself always scolded. What could she do? There was 
only one thing she could ever do about anything; — shriek 
with rage. And the more she shrieked, the more she was 
in disgrace, all in contrast with the baby. See how she was 
caught! She must have felt completely helpless. That is 
why now her rage is utterly beyond her control and yours, 
until it frightens all of you. Haven't you ever been the 
victim of some misunderstanding and felt so helpless that 
you longed to beat your fists against the wall? I have. 
You'll have to be very patient with Elizabeth while she's 
learning the way out of the wilderness in which she's 
been lost. 

"But she's making one mistake in which we can all 
help her right away. She does not understand that you 
can still love her at the same time that you love the baby. 
She's no different from most children at that. It's a lesson 
they all have to learn. 

"Another mistake we can help correct is her giving up 
before an obstacle. That is the result of her commandeer- 
ing too much help when she was younger. She's been 
going at her arithmetic with me like a trump, now she 
begins to see what it is all about." 


I had deliberately swung into a less emotional subject 
to distract the man's attention. 

"Do you think she really didn't understand it?" asked 
her father. 

"I know she had a poor start, and that she hadn't both- 
ered to learn it because there was always someone around 
to help her to get it. Arithmetic is always hard for a child 
who hasn't realized what numbers really mean. But I 
think her recent failure in it has another cause as well. She 
got more attention because she was failing than when all 
went well, didn't she ? You'd supplanted her by the baby. 
Then she'd make you pay attention to her. She succeeded, 
didn't she?" 

"Well, I'll be — You don't mean to say she did it on 

"Probably not. Probably she didn't recognize her own 


"That's too much — a child being as smart as all that! 
But I like your other ideas, and you can count on me to 
put them over." 

For the next few days her mother and I used the arith- 
metic lessons as a lever. The child gained greater self- 
confidence through finding that she could conquer the 
unconquerable. Then we began to broaden her ideas 
about being a big daughter and a big sister. The gains had 
to be made indirectly, as direct discussion, especially at 
first, made her writhe unhappily and twist her hair. 

But her mother reported progress at home and Eliza- 
beth began to realize the privileges as well as the responsi- 


bilities of a big sister. Her parents were to show great 
appreciation of effort. Even if the performance was not 
perfect, they were to make no criticism. All this worked 
out well and pleased the child mightily. 

She earned star after star on her daily chart for going 
through an entire day without a tantrum. Star charts do 
not appeal to all older children, but for her the chart was 
a tangible reminder as well as a record, and so was a 
valuable stimulus to further effort. 

She was still having a hard time with her playmates. 
She understood now that they teased her only because it 
was such fun to get her angry, but she could not control 
herself with them, and the teasing went on. She was so 
unhappy about it that, when her mother became seriously 
ill, her parents decided to let her spend several months in 
die Children's House, an interesting experiment in the 
education of children with which I was connected. 

There were about thirty children in the "House." Some 
were there for health problems, chiefly convalescent or 
feeding problems. Some had personality problems like 
Elizabeth's. Some were there as wards of the Children's 
Aid, in order that they might learn how to adjust to new 
surroundings before trying to fit into a foster home. A few 
were there because their parents were away. I had an office 
there, and used it both for children who lived in the house 
and who lived outside. The staff was carefully picked for 
patience and understanding. The children went to the 
near-by public school. 

Elizabeth had come to my office for her arithmetic, so 


she had already made the acquaintance of several of the 
children who lived in the "House." 

She was happy to come, providing she might bring her 
dolls, and until her first home visit some weeks after her 
arrival, no child could have been more cheery, cooperative 
and friendly. She got on well with everyone. Self-con- 
sciousness vanished, and she was proud to be doing frac- 
tions in regular fourth grade work. She would drop into 
my office to chat, to show her school papers, the book she 
was reading, or the dress she was making for her doll. 
She loved her dolls passionately, and made them clever 
costumes. She was keenly interested in pretty clothes for 
herself as well. Her passion for her dolls was so great that 
I often wondered if she were trying to be to them the 
kind of mother she wanted for herself, — all-adoring, her 
own spoiled-child-idea of a mother. 

When her mother was better, she went home to spend 
Friday to Monday. It was understood that if she flew into 
a temper she was to be brought straight back to us. We 
did not tell her this, since we did not want to suggest to 
her anything but a successful visit. 

At noon on Saturday her father carried into my office a 
screaming, kicking, purple-faced child, who recovered 
herself promptly when she was dumped on the floor. 

"Go wash your face and then come and say goodbye to 
your father," I said quietly. When she returned in a few 
moments she was tranquil again. Meanwhile her father 
told me she had been angelic the first day. But next morn- 
ing, when she saw her mother working on some rompers 


for the baby, she turned on her. Her mother had tried 
to ignore the outburst, but it only grew more furious. So 
there was nothing to do but to bring her back. 

I made no reference to the visit until she spoke of it 
herself. She was much ashamed and begged to be allowed 
to try again. A few weeks later she went for a second 
attempt and it was so successful that her mother asked 
to have her come home to stay. 

But the sight of her mother enjoying the baby's antics 
soon brought back the old furious resentment. She would 
jump up from the table and leave the room indignantly if 
Allan took the slice of bread she had her eye on. She let 
drop a word now and then that showed she resented the 
devotion showered on him, a devotion that never was 
mixed with fault-finding, as it was still, at times, with her. 

Mrs. Boyce was far from well and she brooded over her 
inability to cope with the child. She insisted that she was 
a failure as a mother, in spite of the thought and love she 
had expended. She was under such tension that she could 
not speak of Elizabeth at this time without breaking 
down. She still kept her voice calm the more excited 
Elizabeth became, but Elizabeth evidently sensed the ten- 
sion and disapproval underneath, for she did not respond 
to her mother's mildness. 

Suddenly one day the mother noticed a bald spot a 
couple of inches wide near Elizabeth's temple. The girl 
had always twisted her hair. Now she was plucking it out. 
Elizabeth was unaware of what she had been doing and 
was keenly distressed when she saw it. 


"I do want to look nice, mother. I think if I had a bob 
it might help to keep my fingers down." 

The hair-cut was forthcoming, but it only became a 
cause of anguish for Elizabeth. Her playmates seized upon 
the new bob as a line subject for teasing, and Elizabeth 
was fearful of going outside the door, lest she meet their 
jeers. She could not be induced to go to school or to come 
home alone. She would not leave her seat at recess. Worst 
of all, her fingers were constantly clutching at her front 

The mother understood the motive behind the hair- 
pulling from the start. 

"The baby's hair is inclined to curl, and you know how 
straight Elizabeth's is. Of course, hers is beautiful, so 
thick and shining, and his isn't really pretty at all, but 
people, myself included, have said in her hearing that it 
just had to be the boy who got the curls. I've seen her 
cringe when such a thing was said, and even give her hair 
a yank. Poor little thing! What a thoughtless remark 
can do!" 

Mrs. Boyce was not yet well and felt she could not trust 
herself to handle the child as patiently as was needed. 
School again was the only solution. This time it was to 
be an excellent boarding-school in a city so far away that 
Elizabeth would come home only during the summer 

This decision, pushed as it was by Mrs. Boyce's illness, 
was by no means a confession of failure. Indeed, our 
belief that the girl was now ready to risk the test of hold- 


ing her own with strangers is a proof of her progress. 
Remember the child as I first saw her, tongue-tied, 
wretched with embarrassment, a failure at school, able to 
get along with no one, not even with herself, and almost 
totally lacking in self-control. 

One may ask why, with her responsiveness, Elizabeth 
had so many relapses, and why her whole struggle was 
so long-drawn out. 

Many things enter into the answer — an unstable, hair- 
trigger kind of make-up either inherited or imitated, all 
those subtle combinations of inheritance and influence 
that go to make an individual. The most obvious reason 
was the fact that the unkind little neighbors and the rival 
in the house were not to be argued away. 

Whatever self-control Elizabeth may have acquired was 
only one year old, while her habit of screaming in the 
face of difficulty had a nine-year headstart. She had not 
only to learn qualities that take time to develop, but she 
had to unlearn what was to her the way of a life-time. 

It is interesting to realize that the hair-pulling showed 
a new phase of her struggle. She was turning her punish- 
ment away from her parents to herself. The next few 
years at school would show how Elizabeth would meet 
the test of her powers in a fresh field. 

The reports and letters from school justified our hope. 
Elizabeth met her schoolmates well, grew to love them 
dearly, and to be liked by them. She made satisfactory 
progress in school activities. The hair-pulling gradually 
ceased as no one paid attention to it. 


I was intensely interested when the mother told me that 
in the manual training class the first object made of her 
own choice was a pair of stilts, and that she was running 
about on them continually. "How remarkable!" I ex- 
claimed, trying to imagine that abnormally tall child 
striding about, several feet above her schoolmates. Did she 
want literally to be above even the seniors, or was she 
unconsciously symbolizing a new freedom, a longer, freer 
stride, a seeing of the world from a more comprehensive 
point of view ? 

A letter from her mother telling of her first visit home 
the following summer carries the story a little further: — 

"Last summer had its ups and downs. Elizabeth came 
home with so much more poise and hair! But her attitude 
toward us was little changed. She was jealous of every- 
thing new that Allan had acquired during the year. I 
tried to show her that in reality she had had much more 
and that she should have, being older, which helped some. 
It wasn't long until she was blaming me for everything 
that went wrong even if I had had nothing to do with it. 
My nervous control, based on almost nothing, evaporated. 

"Elizabeth bossed Allan and Allan teased her. The little 
neighbors played one child against the other all summer 
in the cleverest fashion you ever saw. As to Elizabeth's 
hair, she started pulling before she was home a week, 
around the crown this time. I wouldn't notice her. She 
even stood up close and pulled so I should hear it crack, 
but you would have been surprised to see me so deaf and 
blind. I tried to cultivate the attitude that it was her hair 


and it was her business what she did with it. Many a 
weep I had in private, but finally I became actually in- 
different. Eventually she had broken it off all round the 
crown. It had gotten rather stubborn from swimming and 
this short, stiff ruff stuck straight up in the middle of her 
head. It really was funny. One day, after about a month, 
she came into my room after a swim to brush it. She 
brushed and brushed and I didn't see her. Finally she said, 

" 'It just stands straight up!' 

"Then I looked at her and you never would believe I 
could be so nonchalant. I merely remarked, 

" ' You've been pulling it again, haven't you?' and went 
on with my dressing. Then she came forward. 

" Tm going to try to quit. Will you help me?' 

"Quite unconcerned I told her I couldn't do anything 
about it, that when she said she was going to quit, she 
would and could, and then I began to talk about some- 
thing else. From that day she scarcely touched her hair 
and we never mentioned it again. If she got terribly upset 
she would give it one pull or maybe two and then she 
would remember and jerk the hand down, but I never 
gave evidence of noticing anything. 

"When we went to visit her at school this fall it was all 
grown out and quite beautiful. I hardly think she will 
start pulling again, her adolescent's pride is becoming so 
strong now. She was very affectionate to me while we 
were there, and although she never said a word, she acted 
as if she wanted to express repentance. She was so much 
improved and her whole attitude toward me was changed. 


All summer she had felt I was against her, and I didn't 
blame her much. I was so perfectly miserable that I 
couldn't be friendly to anyone and so beside myself that 
her environment was too unstable for any existence, much 
less for a nervous child. 

"I am much better now and will be able to spend a much 
more pleasant summer with her this coming year." 

Mrs. Boyce did not apparently realize that when she 
visited the school, it was the first time Elizabeth had had 
her mother all to herself since Allan was born. There was 
no reason, now, to punish her mother for inattention or to 
fight for her place. Spoiled people are usually charming 
when they are getting what they want. It would be the 
next visit home that would tell whether a real change of 
attitude had taken place. 

It now seems clear that it has, though the second sum- 
mer had its downs as well as its ups. The cook had de- 
parted and had not been replaced, when Elizabeth came 
home. She proudly helped her mother and was much 
pleased at her success. With this as a balance there were 
no outbreaks against Allan. The obnoxious young neigh- 
bors were away. Unfortunately, or fortunately, one of 
them returned in time to pity Elizabeth for "being a slave 
to her mother." This reduced Elizabeth to tears of indig- 
nation and she struck. But she saw reason when her 
mother's impersonal logic bit into her really rational 
adolescent mind. 

"The most I pay a maid," said her mother, "is fifty 


dollars a month. What we pay for you during the year 
amounts to considerably over a hundred dollars a month. 
You know what your tuition is, the train fare and your 
monthly allowance. Add that up, divide by twelve. You 
see it's over a hundred a month, and that does not include 
clothes. Now, are you giving me twice as much service 
as the best maid I've ever had?" 
After that the self-pity disappeared. 

Two years later. Elizabeth is at the same school. She is 
satisfying parents and teachers. The two long vacations 
were planned to give her as few occasions for jealousy as 
possible. One summer she went home with a schoolmate 
for several weeks. The next summer she brought one of 
the girls home with her. Thus there was small chance for 
competition with the little brother. 

Allan himself has never been a problem. He is a serene 
little scientist, absorbed in exploring his ever-widening 
world. When his sister is around he has discovered that 
he can tease her and get results. Naturally he continues. 
His parents are watchful and do not let him use his 
smallness as a weapon against her. 

Elizabeth is now preparing herself for the work she 
wants to do, work that was foreshadowed in her nine- 
year-old passion for making dresses for her dolls. She plans 
to become a designer of children's clothing. Of course she 
may change her mind many times before she is grown. 
She has matured rapidly the past year. Her outlook is 
almost that of an adult. As for her goal, it is not one that 


will shut her within herself. It shows an interest in others. 
Thus the nearly fifteen-year-old Elizabeth stands in strong 
contrast to the nine-year-old who, socially and emotion- 
ally, was still a baby, with a baby's egotistic goals. 

Some children change their points of view and their 
behavior much more rapidly than Elizabeth. In a few 
cases the change comes like a miracle. But even when 
control of temper and of jealousy is slow in establishing 
itself, there is no cause for discouragement. Mark, to be 
sure, changed quickly even after the seven years of jeal- 
ousy that had been built up in him, but he had had a 
healthy, normal babyhood. He had never learned to 
dominate his home and school by tantrums. His was a 
fairly uncomplicated situation. 


When There's a Favorite 


"Won't! Won't!" 

Words were lost in the shrieks and kicks. Three-year- 
old Margaret lay on the floor of the testing room, clutch- 
ing her mother's skirt as she screamed defiance and beat 
her heels against the floor. 



Her mother's look at me veered between a "What did I 
tell you?", humiliation at her daughter's behavior, and a 
curious pride in the child's resolution. 

"It is quite safe to leave her with me," I said. "I'll just 
sit here quietly and read this magazine until she finds 
her tantrum is of no use. Then we'll play the games I have 
on the table, and have a good time." 

I spoke to the mother, but the tone, even more than 
the words, was meant to reach Margaret. Did I imagine 
it, or did the racket let up for an instant? 

Seeing that the mother made no attempt to extricate 
herself from the child's grasp, I bent, and opened the fist. 
Regardless of the new outburst from the floor, I went on 
quietly, "Margaret and I will be through in half an hour, 
perhaps less. You'll find books and magazines to read in 
the playroom while you wait." And I ushered her out. 

In a flash Margaret was up from the floor, tugging at 
the knob. There was no key. Seizing my magazine, I stood 
barricading the door, while the child tugged and yelled. 

I spoke as if nothing were happening. "Your mother 
will wait for you. As soon as you're ready there are some 
games for you on the table." 

For answer more shrieks and battering at the door with 
fists and feet. 

I opened the magazine and pretended to read, my foot 
firmly braced against the door. 

For several minutes the tantrum continued. Suddenly 
it stopped. A small voice spoke, furious. 

"I'm crying." 


"And I'm reading." 

"I want you to stop reading and listen to me cry!" 
"Oh, no," I, answered cheerfully. "I don't like crying. 
I'd rather read. When you stop crying, tell me and we'll 

play '" 
Infuriated, she continued her yelling, but eying me 

closely the while. As I continued to read, unmoved, she 

suddenly stopped, walked to the table, climbed into a 

chair, and said in honey tones, 

"I'm ready now! Le's play." 

The first "games" were simple block puzzles that 
needed no spoken word. She enjoyed them and did them 
well. Then I changed to a casual question, trying to bridge 
the gap that exists for a young child between a motion and 
a spoken answer. 

"And where are your eyes ? Show me your eyes." 

She drew back, glared as if she were thinking to her- 
self, "How did I come to be here? I must show her I 
haven't given in after all!" and sent forth a tearless shriek. 
I picked up the magazine and withdrew miles away from 
her, though with one eye on the door. She made no move 
to rush to it, but burst out, 

"Here's my hair! Here's my nose! Here's my mouth! 
Here're my eyes! Now can I go out?" 

"We've got lots of things we haven't played with yet. 
Come on!" 

Before she knew it, she was deep in the various tests. 
Then the realization that she was being beaten returned. 


She stiffened, gave two short, piercing yips, fixed me with 
her eyes and ripped out, 

"See ! I'm a bad, bad girl ! Aren't you going to send me 

When this did not work she capitulated entirely and 
spent the rest of the time in unbroken enjoyment. 

"Now you've played all my games, let's go and tell 
mother about them," I said at the end. She seized my hand 
and danced with me through the door. At the sight of 
her mother she dropped my hand, puckered her face to 
force tears, and sent up a shriek. 

Paying no attention, I asked the mother to come into 
my office for a talk. "Margaret will find plenty to play 
with here, and Miss Clark will take care of everything." 

The mother hesitated. 

"You came here for help," I said. "When you consult 
a doctor, you follow his prescription. It is the same here. 
We can help you, but only if you cooperate with us." 

We went back to the office. 

"I didn't ask you much about Margaret and her tan- 
trums before," I said, "because, with a small child, I like 
to watch first and see what comes out in the test and chat, 
and then to have the talk with the parent. In that way I 
can get results more quickly. Now tell me first about 
Margaret; then about the other members of your house- 
hold and how they get on with each other." 

"Margaret was the brightest, happiest baby," began the 
mother. "There was no difficulty about her birth or wean- 


ing. She began talking at six months and walked at eight 
months. Truly she did. And that reminds me — she's 
stopped crying. I don't hear a thing in the other room." 

"That means she's happy. Take a peep if you like, but 
don't let her hear you open the door, or she may start 
again at the sight of you. There — now you see you can 
rest easy about her. Please go on." 

"She's been sick only once in her life. She had a bad 
case of measles when she was a year old. Her ears ran 
and her eyes were closed the first day, and that frightened 
us terribly. The ear hurt her for a long time. We've watched 
her carefully ever since, but there has been no return. 
She was the same happy baby until six months ago. Then 
overnight she became the worst of all the children." 

"And how old is your baby? Six or seven months?" 

"Why yes ! But how did you know we had a baby ? I'm 
sure I hadn't mentioned him." 

"Because often children become naughty suddenly and 
in many of the cases we found that the naughtiness began 
just after the next younger baby is born." 

"You mean they are jealous? Margaret shows plainly 
that she is. She always tries to hit the baby when her father 
comes in and picks him up." 

"Has her father stopped playing with her since the baby 
came?" I asked. 

"He's really been forced to, she's so naughty. Besides, 
he's like a lot of men:— he adores a baby and has made a 
pet of each one of ours as it came along. He's never paid 
much attention to them as they grew, and Margaret's 


crying and tempers make him nervous. He's tried to spank 
it out of her. And he's told her he doesn't love her any 
more, she's so bad. And he's shown her how good the 
baby is, and how he loves him. But nothing has any 

Pity rushed through me for the child whose parents 
did not understand what she was suffering. I would wait 
for the mother to realize this as she told her story. 

"You have older children, then?" 

"Yes, a girl, ten, and a boy, seven. Ruth has always 
gotten on well and has never caused us a moment's anxi- 
ety. She has never been sick. She brings home good school 
reports, she is nice with the younger children and is a 
great little pal and help to me. Paul is different from all 
the others. He is slower and still talks baby talk and sucks 
his thumb. He is very timid too." 

"Perhaps you'd like to bring him here to see me?" 

I welcomed the chance to help Paul because the suffer- 
ing of quiet children is so often overlooked, although 
everyone recognizes the problem of the adult who with- 
draws in fear from life and people. 

"I'll be glad to bring him," answered the mother. 

"Has he started school?" 

"Yes, but he didn't pass and he hasn't gotten much out 
of the first grade this time either. He's good, though. 
Never gives any trouble, except that he needs a lot of help 
getting dressed and undressed, putting away his toys and 
so on. We've felt so sorry for him. We nearly lost him 
with convulsions when he started to teethe. But he's 


always good. Margaret is the only trouble. I nearly lose 
my mind over her with her crying and selfishness and her 
everlasting 'No, I won'ts' or 'I wills.' We've spanked and 
scolded, as I said, but it doesn't do any good." 

"Does she generally get her way?" 

"Yes, after she has worn us out." 

"Tell me what she likes to do. Is she a follower or a 

"She always wants to be boss, whether it's at home or 
out playing with other children. Even if they are older 
than she, she fights them if they won't do what she 
wants. She even fights her sister, who is so good to her 
and gives in to her all the time. Ruth, of course, is seven 
years older. Margaret has always said she wants to be big 
and she insists on brushing her own teeth, like Ruth, and 
she puts on her own shoes and stockings. I do the rest, 
though she usually fights me off. 

"She has a crying spell every afternoon. I realize now it 
began when the baby came. There'll be some trifle she 
wants and instead of asking for it, she starts to yell. When 
she stops long enough to tell us what she wants and we 
give it to her, she throws it away furiously. Then Ruth 
and I do everything we can to appease her, but nothing 
satisfies, and it's always 'No' or 'I won't' or just shrieks 
till we are nearly frantic." 

"Let me reassure you on that point. This contrariness 
is a stage most children go through at Margaret's age. It 
is usually over by the time the child is five. It is really 
a sign of expanding personality. It's fun to find out that 


they can say 'no' and then it's exciting to see what will 

"There is one other cause for contrariness and that you 
will have to check to see if it applies. You may be giving 
too many commands. That would make any child rebel. 
What a child is doing is serious business to him. All 
parents want concentration in their children, and yet 
they're constantly breaking into the natural concentration 
which all children have when they're really interested." 

"But how is one to live through this period ? After all, 
the household has other people in it who have their rights 
too," asked the mother. 

"There is a very simple trick that usually works when 
a child says 'I won't.' Just give her time. Say nothing, do 
nothing. Merely watch. After a few seconds, or even much 
longer, you will see her starting to obey. She may even be 
repeating, 'I won't!' while she is actually doing what she 
has been told. Overlook the remark. She is only trying 
to keep up her own self-respect. That you must let her 
keep. This lapse of time between your command and her 
movement of obedience is only the time it takes to let 
the new idea reach beyond her ears and brain to her 

"Another thing. You say Margaret generally wins after 
she has worn you out. Each time she wins makes her 
stronger and more hopeful of winning the next contest. 
Even one single victory makes a child ready forever after 
to take a chance that he may win. I heard a five-year-old 
say once to his four-year-old sister, who was crying for 


something, 'Keep it up! Keep it up! She always gives in 
if you keep it up long enough!' " 

"A child actually said that?" 

"I heard it myself. You will have to arm yourself with 
patience and determination. Let her cry and kick and 
steel yourself to pay no attention. Then, when she 'comes 
around,' as I promise you she will if you hold out, make 
no reference to the past, but greet her pleasantly and try 
to have something interesting to do. She'll soon discover 
what kind of behavior brings her the petting she longs 

"Won't she think she's petted for behaving badly?" 

"I'm quite sure she won't. You'll be convinced if you 
give it a fair trial. You said her crying made her father 
nervous. Is he a nervous man?" I asked. 

"I'd hardly say so. He's big and hearty and loves his 
home. He's always good to us. Everything has gone 
smoothly except when Margaret and Paul were so sick. 
My husband's been wonderful about encouraging me when 
I worry about Paul's slowness." 

"We can talk more about Paul when I've seen him," I 
said. "Now about Margaret. From what you've said and 
from watching her, I have a fairly clear idea of the general 
situation. I didn't talk much with the child today, because 
of the long time it took to get started." 

"Before you begin," interrupted the mother, "I want to 
say that just being here has been an object lesson. Seeing 
how Margaret liked you after you had made her behave 
shows me that she can be handled, and not by violence, 


either. Isn't that one thing you're going to tell me ? And 
our other big mistake was in letting her feel neglected, 
for that's increased her jealousy, hasn't it?" 

"Yes, those are the two important things. In the light 
of your discovery, you'll enjoy this story the more," and I 
related Margaret's "I want you to listen to me cry" episode. 

After we had laughed over it, I went on: "Here is the 
situation. Margaret is struggling through a most difficult 
and tragic period. She has felt the safe, solid ground slide 
out from under her feet. Do you see what I mean? She 
had always been the baby. She knew nothing else. She had 
no reason to suppose there could be anything else. She 
had been very sick, too, and you had all been solicitous 
about her. She took all that for granted as the normal 
course of life. Then there was her father, coming in all 
attention for her. Put yourself in her place when suddenly 
she had none of this, and all attention was focused on a 
newcomer. How would you feel?" 

"Fearfully upset, of course. The middle of the afternoon 
when she's been crying — that's when the baby is through 
his nap and we play with him. And that accounts, too, 
for her behavior with her father! It's the rage of disap- 
pointment and disillusionment, isn't it?" 

"Let me try to put you inside her mind," I said. "Her 
father tells her he doesn't love her because she is bad. 
He loves the baby because he is good. 'Bad' means to her 
the way she's acting, and she can't act any other way 
because she feels so miserable. Since she'll always be mis- 
erable because he doesn't love her, she'll always have to 


be bad, and then he'll never love her. He loves the baby 
because he is good. 'Good' means to her deadly dull like 
the baby, who can't play and do things. So she'll never 
want to be good. So again she can never be loved. So her 
emotions go round and round and her despair is endless." 

The mother sat rigid. Then she cried, "Why didn't I 
think of that!" 

"This is the protest of a vigorous child," I went on. "It 
doesn't mean, however, that your oldest daughter is weak 
because she didn't protest when Paul was born. She may 
be of a more placid make-up. In any case, she had quite 
a different environment in her own babyhood. For in- 
stance, she had not been ill." 

"But Paul never showed any jealousy of Margaret 

"I wonder. I don't know enough yet to say. But you 
may like to think over this: — Where an active type of 
child like Margaret refuses to suffer in silence and vigor- 
ously punishes those who have hurt her, the quieter child 
may take his hurts into a corner with him and brood over 
them, sucking his thumb or handkerchief or the bedclothes 
for comfort. When he tries to regain his lost place in the 
family attention, he does it by baby behavior, baby talk 
and helplessness. These children build a high wall of 
helplessness around themselves and in that way they force 
those around them to take care of them and thus to pay 
attention to them. Paul and Margaret may be saying the 
same thing in their different behavior. Just as Margaret 


was hurt by the present baby, so Paul was probably hurt 
by Margaret." 

"I see. You mean, too, that we've spoiled Paul and that 
we should insist on his dressing himself and so on? But 
he'll never get to school on time. Why, he won't eat prop- 
erly unless I force food down him!" she exclaimed. 

"I imagine if you go to the school and explain what 
you're trying to do, that you'll get cooperation from both 
the principal and teacher. It probably won't take many 
days before he is more independent. Think what that 
will mean for him, not only at home and at school, but 
in his whole life! We want our children to be courageous. 
Neither the helpless way nor the violent way is a good 
way to live. But of the two, Margaret's is the better solu- 
tion. That's because she is willing to fight for what she 
believes hers." 

"You don't mean to say that she's better than Paul!" 
exclaimed the mother, amazed. 

"She may be a much more disagreeable person to have 
around, and you certainly don't want her to grow up a 
bitter, fighting woman, but she is definitely showing more 
spirit and ability to meet life by fighting obstacles than 
she would be by meekly accepting." 

The mother was silent a moment, then spoke slowly: 

"I see what you mean. We should rejoice if Paul plucked 
up enough spirit to be saucy occasionally, or defiant. My 
husband will be interested in that idea." 

"Don't go away thinking that all gentleness must be 


bad. Children often show a tenderness that is very lovely. 
Gentleness and tenderness are excellent qualities. 

"Before you go I want to assure you that you have 
excellent material in Margaret, with all her energy and 
ambition and her fine mind. It is now only a question of 
getting it all properly directed." 

"You've made me feel so encouraged about her. And 
I'll remember what you told me about Paul. When shall 
I come again?" 

"In two weeks, and bring Paul, too." 

Ten days later the telephone rang. 

"I rang up to tell you how well things are going!" The 
mother's voice sounded exultant. "Margaret's responded 
delightfully to her father's playing with her and to our 
ignoring of her crying. She's almost another child already. 
We're sending Paul off to camp next week for the en- 
tire summer as soon as school closes. So we won't be in 
unless Margaret needs you. You should have seen her face 
when Ruth and I ignored her tantrum the first time ! She 
was so amazed. And Ruth's reaction when I told her our 
plan was another revelation to me. She said, 'You mean 
I won't have to give in to her all the time? And I don't 
have to let her spoil my things any more! Oh, goody!' I 
hadn't realized how I'd been imposing on her good- 

"I'm so glad," I answered. "I'd been saving the effect 
on Ruth for your next visit, but here you've found it out 


yourself! I'll be anxious to hear what camp does for 
"I'll let you know," she promised. 

In the fall she telephoned again that the camp had done 
wonders for the little boy. Many of his baby habits were 
gone: — he was dressing himself and taking care of his 
belongings with pride, and was quicker in his movements 
and in his thinking. 

"He doesn't seem a bit slow or stupid now," she finished 

"And how is Margaret?" I asked. 

"No tantrums at all, and she and her father are great 
chums. She still says 'I won't' at times, but I'm not worry- 
ing about it, and everything runs quite peacefully. I really 
think there's no need of bringing either of them in, at 
least at present." 

So things were left as they were, and I did not see any 
of them again. The mother telephoned from time to time. 
Paul went back to school and was making real progress. 
This proved to me that he was not so handicapped as I 
had thought might be possible, and that the failure in 
school was not due to inability but to his desire to hold 
the attention of parents and teacher and to punish them 
for their interest in other children. 

He did not necessarily say this to himself in words, or 
even in direct thought. Some children actually do put 
their feeling into words. One little boy once showed that 
with him it was conscious when he exclaimed, "Nobody 


ever pays attention to me when I do my work, but when 
I don't, oh Gee!" 

At home Paul also behaved more like a seven-year-old 
boy. On his return from camp he found a different family 
from the one he had left. No one rushed to help him off 
with his jacket. Everyone took his newly acquired inde- 
pendence for granted and encouraged him to further re- 
sourcefulness. So he was forging ahead. 

The problem of an aggressive and a yielding child in 
the same family is an interesting one, particularly when 
they seem to have had similar experiences. This difference 
in character already existed before each child met the test 
of the new baby. It seems to have started in the illness 
which each experienced in infancy. 

But why should they react so differently to illness? 
Were they born different? 

Perhaps. But the psychologist sifts the environment of 
each child for causes of difference before he turns to in- 
born difference. 

Let us scrutinize the illnesses of Paul and Margaret. 

Convulsions bring attention through passivity. Paul did 
not have to yell for help, while Margaret's earache taught 
her that screams brought her family running. The diver- 
gence in the characters of the two children may have been 
started in just that one difference: — the type of illness 
in infancy. 

The parents had not been able to help treating the two 
children differently during their two different illnesses, 


yet if at once, during convalescence, they had thrown Paul 
back into independence and forced Margaret to unlearn 
her habit of shrieking for what she wanted, these great 
differences between the children might never have ap- 
peared. The chapter "Refuge in Illness — From Growing 
Up" gives methods for meeting the problems of conva- 

I thought at first that this might be a long problem of 
family re-education. As it turned out, the mother spent 
no time blaming or excusing herself for the mistakes she 
herself recognized as we talked. She faced the two prob- 
lems: — the aftermath of illness, and the adjustment to 
the new baby. Although she had to learn two opposite 
techniques in handling the children, because she under- 
stood, she succeeded. She needed no further help. 


Doris's mother brought her three-months-old son to the 
baby clinic which was held once a week in one of the 
rooms of the Children's House. Hearing children's voices, 
she stopped at another door and discovered the playroom 
of the Guidance Clinic where several children and their 
mothers were waiting to see me. She asked Miss Clark, 
the assistant and home-visitor, what this was. As soon as 
she grasped its purpose she asked if she might send over 
her oldest daughter, almost nine, who was impudent and 
who bit her nails. 

Shortly thereafter three pretty little girls appeared, look- 
ing like graduated editions of each other, except that the 


tallest had a peevish droop to her mouth. This was Doris. 

In a few moments there was uproar in the playroom, 
with Doris its dramatic center. Her arms were flung wide 
in aggressive gestures and her voice rang out in loud, 
determined tones. The more the other children in the room 
seemed to rebel against her, the more bossy she became. 
At length Miss Clark felt it necessary to interfere. 

"Only polite children can play here," she told Doris. 
"Anyone who is rude and spoils the other children's play 
is asked to go home and not come back unless her mother 
is with her. But we like having the children who play 
well together come early and have a good time." 

At once Doris's tactics changed. With an astonishing 
amount of self-control she shifted her manner to a gentle 
leadership that soon won the children into accepting it. 

She was a leader. She expected to dominate, but she was 
quite ready to do it sociably when ejection was the alterna- 
tive. We soon saw that she possessed many of the quali- 
ties of good leadership. For one thing, she was responsible. 
When she was asked to go into the testing room she 
looked distressed. 

"I can't go away from my little sisters," she explained. 
"My mother says I must always stay with them." 

"They won't go out of the playroom, Doris, and there's 
always someone grown-up there to keep an eye on them. 
Your mother will understand when you explain to her 
how it is here. We will take good care of them." 

In the tests the child showed good intelligence and 
ability except in reading. She was almost nine and had just 


entered the fourth grade of a parochial school, but she 
knew no more about reading than a first-grader. She had 
"gotten by" because of her cleverness at guessing. A pic- 
ture on the page would give her a clue or she would have 
heard the context from the reading aloud of the other 
children and she would go on from there with what she 
thought ought to happen. 

A little nonplussed at having to face the fact that she 
could not read, she began voluble explanations and waxed 

"I didn't pass when I was in the first grade, 'cause the 
teacher didn't like me. My mother wouldn't stand for 
that, so she took me to the Sisters' school and put me in 
the second grade. They put me in the third grade and 1 
got promoted to the fourth. I was sick when I was a little 
baby, and that made me nervous, and so the teacher didn't 
like me. And then she wouldn't teach me good. That's 
why I don't know so much about reading. She was a mean 

"What do you want to be when you are grown up, 

"I might be a Sister. I might be a teacher. I might be a 
nurse, if I live. You might be dead tomorrow." 

Her talk was accompanied by a wealth of gesture and 
play of eyes and expression. The words, dramatic, eager, 
alert, responsive, determined, aggressive, responsible, de- 
scribe one side of her, while careless, hasty, superficial, 
self-excusing, describe another. Never in the playroom 
did any of the qualities her mother complained of at 


home, the jealousy, domineering, selfishness, destructive- 
ness, and cruelty appear after the first attempt to dominate 
the children by force. 

Her nail-biting, we noticed, was an index to her mood. 
Her fingers were never in her mouth when she was ac- 
tively playing. The moment she was ignored, defied or 
embarrassed, she chewed at them violently. Every nail 
was bitten to the quick. 

Doris's story, as we gathered it from the mother's re- 
marks to Miss Clark at the home visit, and to me at the 
next clinic visit, showed what the after-effects of a severe 
illness can be when the alarmed parents have yielded to 
every whim of the sick child and have not had the strength, 
afterwards, to break that habit. 

Doris was the oldest of the four children and had 
always been well until she suddenly developed pneumonia 
at three. She was desperately ill. Her father lost twenty-five 
pounds in his anxiety, and her mother became wakeful 
to such an extent that she never since had been able to 
sleep soundly. Doris had a recurrence of the pneumonia at 
four, with measles and "flu" in addition during the same 
year. She became so precious that neither parent ever 
thought of refusing her anything. 

"She was so sick," said the mother, "that I had to give 
her everything she wanted. Now she is so nervous I have 
to keep on. Her father loses patience easily. He was very 
sick last year — hardening of the bones, the doctor said, 
and they are always hurting him. 

"Doris won't eat anything but meat and potatoes and 


milk. If I try to make her eat other things she screams 
and throws them out of the window. Then her father 
gives her pennies to go to the store to buy what she likes 
if only she'll stop screaming. When she's out playing on 
the sidewalk she doesn't like to stop and come in for meals, 
so I have to put her meat and potatoes in a box and let it 
down to her on a string because the other two girls say 
they won't wait on her. 

"She's never still. Even when she's asleep she tosses 
about, but, thank goodness, she isn't crying in her sleep 
any more. In the morning she never wants to get up. 
When she doesn't have to go to school I let her sleep as 
long as she likes. 

"If she doesn't like her clothes, or gets tired of them, she 
cuts them up or throws them into the incinerator. She 
flies into tempers at the other children and tries to hurt 
them. Once she grabbed a knife and threatened them with 
it. She even tries to hurt the baby. She pulls his hair and 
slaps him. 

"She's fearfully saucy. I've tried to spank it out of her, 
but that only makes her worse, and besides, she'll bite her 
nails harder than ever. She's bitten her nails since she was 
so sick. 

"As soon as she gets a thing, she doesn't like it and 
doesn't want it and begins to scold. But even if she doesn't 
want it she doesn't want the other girls to have it. She 
doesn't want them to have anything. She fights with them 
all the time." 

And the mother rambled on and on, seeing the child's 


selfishness and domineering, but feeling helpless before 

The apartment was well kept. The mother worried 
about the children and how to stretch a meager income 
over all the family expenses. Her sleeplessness made her 
irritable at times. She remembered how unhappy she 
herself had been with teachers she didn't like, so she had 
changed Doris's school. She told about the first-grade 
teacher who had been "mean" to Doris and would not 
promote her, yet here was the child in the fourth grade 
after a double promotion. She was very proud of Doris's 
educational achievements. 

I told her how well-behaved Doris was with us, how 
she had stopped bossing when she was asked to treat all 
the children politely, and how conscientious she was about 
taking care of her little sisters. 

"You have been such a splendid nurse, Mrs. Temple, 
that she's a big, strong girl now, and it is perfectly safe 
to let her cry if she doesn't get what she wants. You tell 
your husband that we are sure of it. Meanwhile we'll try 
to help her learn that she is too big now to carry on like 
that. We'll try, too, to help her learn to eat what is good for 
growing children, and to stop biting her nails and quar- 
reling at home. She's so good to the little girls here that 
I know she can be good to them at home too. Come over 
next week and let me know how things are going. Don't 
expect too much. It takes time and patience." 

Meanwhile we attacked the nail-biting. If one symptom 
of a child's difficulty is treated successfully, the parents 


and the child himself feel a growing confidence in the 
ability of the clinic and are less likely to drop out before 
the underlying difficulty has been overcome. Nail-biting, 
like thumb-sucking, or other peculiar actions, tells us that 
a child does not feel sure of himself and of his place at 
home and with others. In Doris's case my careful ex- 
amination of each nail at each weekly visit and the offer 
of a manicure for each finger that showed enough white 
rim, turned the trick, together with the promise of a 
small manicure set to be her own as soon as she could 
go a whole month without a nibble. She showed the same 
self-control that she had shown in regard to bossing the 
other children, and earned the outfit at the end of the 
first month. She and her sisters, who had asked to show 
their nails also, responded at once to the suggestion that 
soap and water should be used on all hands before they 
went on exhibition. Not one of them forgot to come after 
that with clean hands, even though they came straight 
from school. 

One day they brought a bevy of little girls with them. 
"We want a nail-biting club," Doris explained. "They 
bite their nails too, and they saw how nice our nails were 

Doris and her sisters all showed prompt response to 
any social suggestion. Doris's habit of domineering can 
not be so very deep when she can take on new attitudes 
so readily and retain them without a relapse during entire 
playroom afternoons. There was some improvement at 
home too, her mother reported. If the father's irritability 



can be kept in check and the mother can get more sleep, 
they both may have courage enough to resist offering 
Doris more privileges than the other children, and to 
insist that she live up to the family standards. 

We dropped seeds of suggestion about what it means 
to be a big sister and how much big sisters can be loved. 
She had seen for herself the immediate disadvantages of 
a leadership based on noisiness and rudeness. Therefore 
she was more ready to consider our point of view in re- 
gard to other relationships. At first she seemed to be one 
of those privileged beings who, having much, want more, 
and consider more as their due. Now it may well be that 
none of her ugly traits are deeply ingrained after all, and, 
like weeds, they can be rather easily uprooted. 

The nail-biting was Doris's secret language, telling those 
who had the key, that Doris, like all tyrants, lived in dread 
of rebellion against her terrorizing. Doris is exactly in the 
position of the tyrants of history and of today, who, realiz- 
ing the shallow foundations that underlie their power, feel 
compelled to make a greater and greater show of power. 
She, too, felt, unconsciously, the tottering of the pinnacle 
of favoritism on which she had been perched, and had to 
keep piling proof upon proof of her power in order to 
convince herself that she really had it. Yet she never was 
convinced. To her the unbearable situation had been that 
her right of rule might be contested. She was uncertain 
and she was indignant because she was uncertain. 

Now she is beginning to understand that power gained 
through sharing and kindly service is more trustworthy 


than that gained through quarreling. Once she is fully 
convinced of this, her fine qualities of leadership can be 
turned to good account. She will find joy in more and 
more responsibility and in recognizing others instead of 
trampling upon them. 

Both Doris's mother and Margaret's spoke of spanking 
the children. The reason that I did not suggest at once 
that they stop spanking was that, in both cases, they recog- 
nized its futility, and, besides, I knew that as each child 
felt more secure in her home, her behavior would improve, 
and the need for spanking stop of itself. 


"I'm making a picture for my father, I'm making a 
picture for my father," crooned Laura as she carefully 
finished a crayon drawing of a blue kitten underneath a 
pink tree. She was Waiting in the Guidance Clinic play- 
room for her turn. "Maybe he'll like it. Maybe he'll say, 
'My, that's fine!' Maybe he'll kiss me!" 

Notice from father, his kiss, praise from him, were 
clearly the goals toward which this little girl was striv- 
ing. Evidently these delights did not come to her often. 

Laura was nearly six. Well-built, clear-eyed, she was an 
energetic and attractive little girl. She came from a cul- 
tured home in the suburb of a large city. Her father was 
an architect. Her mother had insisted on continuing her 
teaching in a progressive school after her marriage. The 



house was run by a good-natured housekeeper and a cook. 
Books and music abounded. The house was large with 
garden and plenty of play space. There were three other 
children, healthy and friendly: a boy of eight, another 
two and a six-months-old baby girl. On the surface all was 

Yet Mrs. Weston had come for help. She was in great 
anxiety. She was having one nervous breakdown after 
another; her work was imperiled; and all because of 
Laura. She poured forth her story in torrents, without a 
pause, without waiting for answers to her questions. 

She had resented having children, as her heart was 
bound up in her work. Her husband had promised before 
they were married that she should always go on teaching. 
As she spoke of him her voice took on a tinge of scorn, 
as if she thought him weak and despised him for it. He 
was delighted with the first baby because he was a boy, 
but was disgruntled when the second was a girl. He'd 
never paid much attention to this second child, and if he 
ever noticed her, the poor little thing would go almost 
mad with excitement, and then he would punish her. 

"I didn't want her myself — I didn't want any of the 
children, but she was a girl, and so bright! She's not quite 
six and almost through the first grade! I've always petted 
and spoiled her to make up for her father's neglect. The 
petting's gone to her head and now she's unbearable. She 
thinks that no rules apply to her. She behaves particularly, 
badly before guests. She has so many nervous habits I've 
gone nearly frantic. The doctor says I shouldn't have any 


worry or responsibility. My health has always been delicate, 
but I've never allowed it to interfere with my work. 

"Laura sucks her thumb continuously. She claims it 
keeps her from being thirsty. She wets her bed almost 
every night and sometimes even her clothes. The doctor 
says there's nothing wrong and that she'll outgrow it, but 
whippings and shamings don't do a bit of good. She has 
nightmares and grinds her teeth in her sleep. She fusses 
about her food and won't eat what's put before her. She 
breaks up her toys. She gets her way by tantrums. I know 
I shouldn't give in, but I come home tired and nervous 
myself. She quarrels with her brothers and she's jealous 
of the baby. 

"She's lazy, for she says 'No' to whatever is asked of 
her. Then twice recently she's taken nickels and pennies 
out of my purse and the housekeeper's. 

"But the worst is this — this is what's frightening me so 
and why I've come to you — yesterday I found her in a 
vacant lot with some boys and she was emptying her 
bowels in front of them. She wasn't embarrassed at all 
when I came upon her — just defiant. Of course I was upset 
and whipped her, but that made her more defiant. 

"A year ago she came home and said some boys had 
taken down her clothes, but I'm sure from what she said 
that they didn't touch her otherwise. Oh, can she grow 
up to normal womanhood with all this? When she was 
only two we found her in the street without any clothes, 
and last summer she ran away and went swimming with 
a little boy in her underwear — at least that was what she 


said. She came home in it because she'd forgotten where 
she'd left her dress and shoes, and didn't know the little 
boy's name nor where he took her. Her father whipped 
her severely but see what she's doing now! Can she over- 
come these terrible tendencies? What can I do?" 

But without waiting for an answer, she hurried on. She 
really saw her own worst faults coming out in Laura. She 
was impatient and nervous herself. She was tired when 
she came home and it was very hard to have the children 
bothering her, yet of course she couldn't leave them all 
day with servants. The housekeeper had been with her 
six months. She was kind to the children but didn't have 
good judgment in settling their quarrels and in telling 
them what to do. However she was thankful to have her, 
as help was hard to keep with Laura so naughty. 

There was nothing to be done for Mrs. Weston at this 
visit but to let her talk out her troubles, listen and gather 
impressions as best we could of the Mrs. Weston whom 
her children knew, of the Mrs. Weston her husband knew, 
of the excellent teacher whom her pupils and fellow- 
teachers knew, and, lastly, of the Mrs. Weston who was 
talking then and there in the office. 

These impressions, later corroborated by the home and 
school visits, were that in her school she was an enthusi- 
astic teacher, controlling her pupils by the eagerness she 
aroused in them. But the strain was great and at home she 
"let down the brakes." To her children she was impatient, 
changeable, petting them one minute and scolding or nag- 
ging them the next, according to her own surges of mood. 


To her husband she acted like a spoiled child, expecting 
much and giving little. To us she seemed a dominating 
woman, although she got her way not so much by clamor 
and insistence as by displaying her weakness and help- 

She seemed both tense and intense. Her intellectual 
equipment was excellent, but she used it poorly when it 
came to solving her home problems. It was clear that she 
wanted the best for her children, but her emotions stood 
in her way and prevented her from controlling Laura. 
Whenever she spoke of her collisions with the child her 
expression and her voice became tense, and we could see 
that she used impatience and violence instead of tact. 

She kept asking for help, yet refused to stop long 
enough to listen to any suggestion. As she talked on and 
on it was as if she were feverishly warding off any word of 
ours that might hint that she had been wrong in her 
handling of the child. She might almost have been com- 
manding us to praise and wonder at her for having been 
such a martyr to her terrible child, and telling us that 
of course we must change Laura into the type of child 
she liked, so that she would not be annoyed any longer. 
Yet we dared not speak our minds bluntly. 

We could not say outright, at that first interview, "Mrs. 
Weston, your daughter is a thermometer that reacts to 
your own moods and temper. You try changing yourself 
and then watch the change in your daughter." She would 
have been outraged and have left, convinced that we did 
not know our business. She the one to change! But that 


would have meant that she had been to blame somehow. 
Impossible and ridiculous! 

If we had said more tactfully, "Laura is undoubtedly 
upset at her father's attitude toward her. From your story 
she seems to be an unusually sensitive child, and partic- 
ularly sensitive to your moods. She gets upset, too, when 
you come home tired and with frayed nerves. Have you 
ever noticed that she is worse when you are more tired 
than usual?" she might have received that as a compli- 
ment to herself and to her child, and so the first edge of 
the wedge toward better understanding of herself might 
have been inserted, but she gave us no opportunity. 

At the end, we managed to get permission to visit the 
home, get the servants' feeling about Laura, see Laura 
herself in action and then visit Laura's teacher. Likewise 
Miss Clark might try to see Mr. Weston, though his wife 
doubted that he would be willing to make an appoint- 

So Miss Clark visited the home next morning. The 
housekeeper and cook frankly disliked the child, calling 
her impertinent, dishonest, disobedient and "highty- 
tighty." Mrs. Weston, they said, generally came home tired 
and nervous and scolded considerably. Mr. Weston liked 
to romp with the little boys but Laura always tried to mix 
up with them and got on his nerves and she'd end up 
crying and in a nasty temper, with him scolding at her. 
Edward, the seven-year-old, played mostly on the street 
or in his chum's yard. He gave no trouble. Neither did 
the two babies. But Laura — no one liked her. None of the 


girls would play with her, she was so bossy. She was 
always hanging around the boys in the street, trying to 
get them to let her play with them. Edward wouldn't 
play with her at all. 

At school the first grade teacher considered her a very 
bright child, doing outstanding work although she was 
the youngest in the class. Not that she studied hard. Things 
came easily to her. She behaved well in school, but at re- 
cess she generally wandered about alone on the girls' side 
of the playground. The report from the kindergarten 
teacher was much the same. Both teachers spoke of the 

The following Saturday morning Miss Clark telephoned 
to the father, asking to see him during the next few days, 
to help make a plan for Laura. He refused point-blank, 
saying, "I don't want to be bothered about the children. 
That is my wife's affair." 

The same Saturday Miss Clark had lunch with Mrs. 
Weston and the children. This was her first glimpse of 
Laura, who came in pleasantly enough, greeted the guest 
and started to sit down when her mother stopped her, 
dramatically and with a martyr-note, 

"Touch no food, I beg of you, until you have washed 
your hands." 

Laura glared, started to speak, glanced at the guest, and 
marched silently upstairs. 

"Who wouldn't have wanted to respond violently to 
such a red rag?" commented Miss Clark as she described 
the visit. The child returned sullenly to the table, but 


gradually thawed as she listened to the guest's fascinating 
story of a visit to the Indians in New Mexico. 

On the following Monday Laura danced into the office 
playroom, chatting volubly with Miss Clark, who had 
called for her at school. 

"You may play with anything you see on the shelves, 
Laura, until it's your turn to go into the other room and 
play the games in there," said Miss Clark. 

The child was just settling down with crayons and 
paper when she noticed a tiny child playing with a big 
doll. Her crayons dropped. She eyed the doll. Then she 
marched over to Miss Clark. 

"That's what I want, that big doll. Get it for me." 

"When the little girl is through playing with it, you 
may have it." 

"But I want it now " 

"It's hers now. When she is through, then you may play 
with it." 

At this Laura fell back on the home tactics that had 
never failed. She threw herself on the floor kicking and 
screaming, but no one came near. No one spoke to her. 
After some minutes she picked herself up and settled down 
again with the crayons. It was while she was bending over 
her nearly finished picture that she crooned her wistful 
little chant about her father, "Maybe he'll like my pic- 
ture. Maybe he'll say, 'My, that's fine!' Maybe he'll kiss 

She went in to the tests in great spirits, and made a high 
score. Her reasoning power was keen. At times, however, 


her remarks were more like a four-year-old than the 
seven-and-a-half the tests showed her to be in mental de- 
velopment. Emotionally she was far less mature than she 
was mentally. She had already shown that in the doll 
episode. When I asked, "What's the thing to do if you 
broke something that belonged to someone else?" she 
answered promptly, "Cry," then added, "and tell them I 
was sorry." Although this question comes in the eight- 
year-old group, her answer, that is, the first part, was 
emotionally on a level with her behavior about the doll. 

"Do you like to play?" I asked her. 

She nodded. 

"Whom do you like to play with?" 

"The boys on the street, but sometimes they won't let 
me. My brother, he never lets me." 

"Don't you like to play with girls ? 

"Yes. They come and we play in my back yard." 

"Do you fight much?" 

"Well, once Mary went home 'cause I wouldn't let her 
be the aunt, but she came back and we didn't fight. I like 
to wheel my baby sister." 

"Do you take care of her sometimes?" 

"Sometimes I take her out all alone, and sometimes my 
mother comes too. My mother doesn't like her. She doesn't 
like me either. She told the ladies who stop to look at my 
baby. She said she didn't want us. She said she never 
wanted any babies, anyway." 

"I'm sure you didn't understand just what your mother 
meant, Laura," I said. "She didn't mean she didn't love 


you. She loves you all. She was telling us so. And she said 
she liked to teach, so of course, each time a tiny baby 
came, she had to stop teaching for a while, to take care 
of it. But each baby was so cunning and sweet that she 
loved it right away." 

"Oh!" Laura considered a second. "My father doesn't 
love me much of the time. He loves the boys all the time. 
He whipped me. He said I was running away and I was 
only taking a walk." 

"When I was a little girl," I answered, "I took a walk 
too, but they thought I was running away because I 
didn't tell anyone I was going. They made me sit on a 
chair tied to the bed-post for a long time. You see, big 
people get frightened when they do not know where their 
children are, and they think they are lost or hurt. Then 
they punish the children so they'll remember never, never 
to go off like that again. Don't you think your father felt 
like that?" 

This time the eyes brightened. Here was a new and 
heartening point of view. She nodded. 

"Now I'm going to ask you something and I want you 
to think hard when you answer it," I went on. "Was that 
the only reason he whipped you?" 

"He said I was naughty 'cause I fought with Ed and 
the baby. He said I was rude. But I wanted him to. play 
with me too." 

Not a word about the incident in the empty lot. We 
found later the mother had not told the father. She had 


been afraid to. But since Laura did not bring it up, neither 
did we. 

"Of course you wanted him to play with you," I said. 
"But you didn't use a very good way to make him want 
to. He doesn't like you when you fight with your broth- 
ers, does he, or when you cry or get angry?" 

She shook her head. 

"No, you can't make anyone like you that way. Can 
you think of a better way?" 

"Be nice— not fight 'n cry." 

"Yes, that's a good way, and making a picture for him, 
that's another good way. I think he'll like that picture. 
But even if he's too tired to pay much attention to it when 
he comes home, never mind. Keep on doing the kind of 
thing he likes, and you'll be growing into the kind of 
girl he likes. 

"You said, a moment ago, that you wanted your father 
to love you all the time. Nobody can play with you all 
the time, but people do love you all the time, even if they 
don't show it. You mustn't expect them to make a fuss 
over you every minute. That was a mistake you made. 
Only very little children expect that. And you are big." 

As the interview went on the child brightened more 
and more. She puffed with pride when she was praised 
for being such a kind big sister to the baby, and for being 
the head of her class in school. 

"That certainly means you are a big girl. You can be 
such a help to your mother, especially when she comes 


home tired from work. You can play with the babies so 
that she can rest, and then you can play you're the mother 
and she's your little girl for you to take care of. Try being 
very quiet and good to her and see how happy she'll be. 
Then come back here next week and tell us about every- 

Mrs. Weston came in after the test and interview were 
over, and, having talked herself out at the first visit, was 
more ready to listen. She was much pleased at being told 
of the excellent impression Laura had made, of her keen 
intelligence, of her devotion to the baby, even though she 
might have moments of jealousy, and of her control of the 
tantrum over the doll. Then we told her of the child's 
longing for affection from both her parents. 

"Children do not have nightmares and grind their teeth 
in their sleep unless they are uneasy," we told her. "Thumb- 
sucking and nail-biting show that a child needs comfort- 
ing and gets it as best he can. Children are often very 
sensitive to the moods of their parents and your little girl 
is as sensitive as any child we've seen." 

I explained how, from the interview, I had realized 
that Laura felt that neither her father nor her mother 
loved her, and that we considered that the source of all 
her difficulties. I described the way the child brightened 
as I explained things to her. 

"She has been too wretched to be good," I said. "What 
we have to do now, all of us, both here and at home, is 
to encourage her and get her to feel that she is always 
loved, even if she is found fault with sometimes. So, as I 


talked with her, I made no reference to any of her other 
difficulties. I'm sure that most, if not all, of those will 
drop out by themselves as she begins to feel that you and 
her father consider her a big, responsible person and 
enjoy having her around." 

As I saw the mother's troubled face, I explained more 

"She is an extremely feminine little person, with a nor- 
mal little girl's adoration of her father. She thinks, with 
her baby-logic, that the way to win him is to behave like 
a tomboy, since it seems to her that that is why he enjoys 
the little brothers. When tomboy behavior brought grief, 
she naturally tried to get the longed-for masculine ad- 
miration from others. So she played boys' games with 
the boys in the street, and perhaps she remembered that 
once they had been interested in taking down her clothes, 
so there might be another way to focus their attention. 
There is another explanation, too. Mothers are always 
concerned with the baby's bowel-movements. She sees 
you watchful of those, and so again her baby-logic might 
have come into action. There is really no grounds for 
your fear that she may have a wild streak. 

"Now when a baby, entirely unconscious, runs around 
naked, and goes to the toilet openly, no one thinks it 
naughty. Every mother finds it difficult to draw the divid- 
ing line, as the baby grows older, between what is natural 
and innocent, and what is socially undesirable. If the 
mother is overanxious in training the child, she may 
make the whole matter too important to him." 


Mrs. Weston's account of her toilet training of the child 
showed she had done just this. So Laura, a baby in her 
emotions, although ahead of her years in intelligence, 
still tried to get attention and to be important in the old 
baby way, meaning that she was acting like a two-year- 

We emphasized to the mother that to call too strong 
attention to anything fixes its importance in one's mind. 
Laura had already had more than enough of this. There- 
fore we must not impress it further. Our task, ours and 
the parents', was to help her emotions grow up to her 
years. We must help her learn to stand on her own feet, 
not to be so dependent on approval or disapproval. She 
must learn to face difficulties squarely and with courage. 
She must learn to give as well as take. 

How to do this? By assuring her that she has a real 
place in her home; by giving her opportunities for wider 
interests; by approving all that could be reasonably ap- 
proved in effort and behavior; by ignoring babyish ac- 
tions, so that she could see that they were no longer 
useful; and finally, by developing her gift of being at- 
tractive to boys, but showing it in more socially approved 
and grown-up fashion. "I foresee you as the proud 
mother of a popular young high-schooler, Mrs. Weston," 
I added, as the mother left us in a much calmer state of 
mind, that in itself would be a help to Laura. 

It seemed to us, though we did not say so to the mother, 
that Laura needed friends to divert her mind from the 
father who might always disappoint her. 


Laura was like her mother. She had the same lack of 
emotional control. One need not attribute this to heredity. 
It is as easy to explain as part imitation and part similar 
reaction to similar causes. 

For Laura's mother had remarked, in talking of her 
own childhood, that she had been torn between loyalty 
to her mother and to her father. And Laura had inherited 
her mother's beauty. This double resemblance was at 
present a misfortune, for it seemed the only plausible ex- 
planation of her father's dislike of her. If he had felt as 
most fathers do about a bright, attractive little daughter, 
she would not have offended him either by her over- 
eagerness or by her anger. 

When we thought over the depth of the wife's con- 
tempt, revealed as she spoke of her husband, it seemed 
impossible that he could be unaware of her attitude, con- 
sciously or unconsciously. He might be taking out the 
resentment which he managed to control in regard to 
his wife, on the little girl who was so like her. Only some 
such reason, beyond the father's control or even under- 
standing, would explain his unnatural attitude. It was 
this realization which made us prepare the child for dis- 
appointment if her best efforts could not change his atti- 
tude toward her. 

When parents are at odds with each other, whether 
they try to hide the fact from the children or not, the 
sensitive children of the family are affected. Food and 
sleep difficulties, temper, irritability, and even more fla- 
grant misbehavior, appearing mysteriously, disappear when 


parents have straightened out their own difficulties. 

On Mrs. Weston's next visit I tried to find an opening 
to ask about this attitude of hers toward her husband, 
and whether she thought he was aware of it. The open- 
ing did not come, and I could not press the matter. She 
was ready to accept the fact that Laura had misunder- 
stood her and therefore was rebellious. She was ready to 
accept the fact that her own waves of conflicting emo- 
tions, petting Laura one moment and scolding her the 
next, had interfered with her management of the child. 
She was ready to listen to the suggestion that her own 
frequent "breakdowns" might be a bodily expression of 
her consciousness of her failure as a disciplinarian. But 
she was not yet ready to look at herself in relation to her 

After this third visit, Mrs. Weston did not come again 
herself, but she continued to send Laura and to communi- 
cate with us by telephone and through Miss Clark until 
we all felt that enough improvement had taken place to 
warrant stopping the visits. This took many weeks. 

The first two months Laura seemed to improve by 
leaps and bounds. The third month she suddenly began 
sucking her thumb more than ever, doing so with de- 
liberation and defiance. At the same time the bed-wetting, 
that had almost ceased, became more frequent and her 
old anger and unreasonableness returned occasionally. 

Mr. Weston had felt conscience-stricken at first, his 
wife reported, when she told him how the child had 
shown her longing for his affection. For a time he had 


made some effort to be kind to her. He thanked her for 
the picture. This attitude, however, had not lasted long, 
and it is possible that Laura's relapse at the end of the 
first two months was caused by her father's relapse into 
indifference. If she had encroached too far in her new 
assurance of his affection and had been rebuffed, and 
then if his wife had reproached him, it would have been 
a return to the old family pattern and he might have 
dropped back into the old dislike. 

Mrs. Weston herself was sure that her own attitude had 
been much changed by what she had learned and that 
she was managing all of the children better. 

School closed at this time, and Laura, following a sug- 
gestion that a vacation from each other would be good 
for both mother and daughter, spent the summer with 
her aunt in the country. When she returned she came 
proudly to announce that she hardly ever sucked her 
thumb any more, and that she had wet herself only once, 
during a long drive. Her mother said that all this was 
true, and that she was also more obedient. 

We noticed, however, that Laura fingered her mouth 
and chin nervously, as if she had to have an outlet and 
had substituted this for the thumb-sucking. 

We could not wonder at this proof that Laura was not 
yet content in her home. We could not take her goal 
away from her. A father's love is a normal desire for a 
child. Not to want it, not to try to win it, would be ab- 
normal. The only thing out of the normal in Laura's 
desire was its intensity. And there again, we could not 


wonder, for the value of anything is apt to grow in our 
eyes when we are deprived of it, or have to struggle to 
get it. 

What would become of Laura? What would have be- 
come of her if we had not been able to help, even though 
not as much as we would have liked? So we began to 

The effect of any obstacle on ambitious people is to in- 
crease the value of the goal beyond and to cause them to 
increase their efforts. This effort and exercise increase 
their strength. All this is good, and is the stuff of which 
progress is made. But when a child struggles to lift a 
man-sized load, the strain may injure him. So with the 
struggle to overcome a too-great obstacle, or to push to- 
ward a too-difficult goal. 

Laura was over-ambitious, with her heart set on the 
apparently unattainable goal of winning her father. The 
very strength she gained in the struggle she was wasting 
in ill-judged effort. To her, as to all extremely ambitious 
people, nothing but an impossible or difficult goal will 
ever satisfy, since nothing less would prove to her diat 
she was really worthwhile. Laura must have felt, even 
if she did not put it into words, that there must be some- 
thing wrong about her if she could not win her father's 
love. Nothing else would give her self-respect. So she had 
striven desperately with the only methods she knew. 

This would lead into danger. Excessive feeling for 
either parent makes it hard to love other people. Too 
great give or take of affection and too little may have 


similar results. Daughters bitterly disappointed in their 
fathers may distrust all men, may not dare to marry. 
They may be able to care only for other girls, thus linger- 
ing in a school-child stage, for all boys and girls go 
through a time when they scorn the opposite sex. Or these 
girls may turn from one man to another, never able to 
care deeply for any of them. Or they may marry a man 
with the expectation which no husband can fulfil, that he 
will give them all that they missed in a father. 

The emotions develop slowly through successive stages, 
just as do the body and the mind. At each stage the emo- 
tional life needs its own kind of food and exercise in 
wholesome amounts. There are such things as anemia of 
the emotions and a kind of rickets of the feelings, mis- 
shapen because they are starved, as there is also indiges- 
tion of the emotions from over-feeding. 

Laura already showed a lopsidedness from starvation. 
Her emotions needed to grow up to her mind through 
the exercise of the daily give-and-take of a group ruled 
by mutual affection. Nothing can take the place of the 
family in the opportunity it gives for growth and self- 
discipline. The home is the child's first pattern and lesson 
in love. So the home should widen with the years and 
become part of the child's relation to other people. Alfred 
Adler says that the mother, the child's first love, should 
be the spreader of that love, first to the father, then to 

How much more happy a home Mrs. Weston might 
have built had she been given the help when she was 


Laura's age that was given Laura, no one can tell. Nor 
will we ever know what Laura might have been like if 
her father had loved her from babyhood. There are so 
many more possibilities in every human being than are 
ever developed. Every favorable circumstance opens new 

Help for Laura must come without the father's co- 
operation, through her mother and through herself, and 
through the hope that the attitudes which we helped to 
change will continue to mold them both. Most important 
for the mother was the removal of her dread that the 
child was abnormally sexed and might become an out- 
cast. As the child blossomed with the mother's increased 
sympathy, so would the mother become more attractive 
as she restored calm to her household. We might hope 
that in consequence, the father would feel happier with 
both mother and daughter. 

Laura's greatest chance for this will be when she be- 
comes an attractive young woman. Even if she fails of 
this, her own ambitious self-development and her com- 
pensation in other relationships may help her to avoid 
the emotional pitfalls of the disappointed daughter and 
to build herself a happy useful life. 

But no matter how well she develops, no one would 
wish such a stimulus to effort for any child. Children 
suffer too much when they are not loved. 

Even one parent's devotion is not enough. 


Identical Twins Treated Differently 


You're going to have something exciting tomorrow," 
said Miss Clark, the home visitor at the Guidance Clinic, 
to me. "Identical twins! At least they look enough alike 
to be. Yet the mother says they're entirely different. She 



was bringing only Alice, the one she says is backward, but 
I persuaded her to have both children tested. I called, too, 
on the grandmother who lives next door, and — How- 
ever, I'd like to hold my report till you get your impres- 

So next day a pleasant looking young woman appeared, 
with a blond twin on either hand. 

"Yes, they're twins and hardly anybody can tell them 
apart, but they don't look alike to me. Alice always has a 
scowl so thick it weighs her face down, but Ardis is al- 
ways smiling," said the mother in tones perfectly audible 
to the nearly three-year-old twins. 

Indeed, there was a troubled look in the blue eyes of 
one of the two pretty curlyheads, while the other was 
beaming and eager. As this difference might have been 
caused by the mother's thoughtless words alone, the first 
move was to invite her into my office while the twins 
stayed in the playroom with Miss Clark. 

The mother quickly objected, "Oh, I can't leave Alice 
or she'll start to cry. She will anyway. She always does." 

"But we never let children hear themselves discussed. 
Please come into the office with me," I urged. 

"Why, children never pay attention to what's being 
said around them," she answered, surprised. "And be- 
sides, mine are too little to understand." 

Nevertheless she rose and followed me into the office, 
beginning to pour out her story even before the door was 

"Alice is so terribly backward, that's why I brought 


her. She's been sulking around in corners lately so much 
that I thought she must be sick and took her to the doc- 
tor. He said she's well enough, but that you people might 
do something for her. She's so different from Ardis you'd 
never know they were sisters, let alone twins." 

Now it was evident at first glance that these sisters were 
not only twins, but probably identical twins. That is, they 
were not the product of two separate cells, born at the 
same time, as some twins are, but had developed from 
one single cell which had divided into halves. When this 
happens each half-cell contains its complete share of the 
common human material with all its latent character- 
istics. Therefore identical twins are always of the same 
sex, always look alike and are basically alike. As identical 
twins are of exceptional interest to students of human 
problems, many studies have been made of them. So 
when this mother had announced to Miss Clark that her 
young twins, brought up together, were utterly different 
in behavior and in character, Miss Clark knew that we 
would be eager to test them both. 

The mother went on with her story. She had been a 
stenographer and lived at home until she married at 
twenty-seven. Her husband was a large, good-natured 
man who was always kind to her. The twins were her 
first and only children. She had been so ill and weak 
after their birth that her husband's relatives had taken 
care of them during their first year, while she and her 
husband lived with her mother. 

Thus the inexperienced mother was relieved of her 


new responsibilities. Ill, with an indulgent husband, she 
had returned to the status of daughter in a home where 
she had already lingered longer than most young women. 
This return to her mother proved to be of immense sig- 
nificance to the future of her own children. 

The young mother, then, knew little about the first 
babyhood of the twins. What she did know was that 
Alice was behind her sister from the start, although she 
was half an hour older. Alice weighed only four and a 
half pounds when she was born, while Ardis weighed a 
pound more. Ardis was the more active baby, and 
throughout the first year she developed two to three 
months sooner than Alice. Alice was never sick, just 

The twins were returned to their mother's care and 
their grandmother's home just at the time when their 
teething, their learning to walk and talk were all-impor- 
tant. As we came to know the characteristic ways of all 
the family, we realized that Ardis, with her two months' 
head start, got the applause for each achievement, while 
there must have been considerable disappointment and 
worry about Alice. 

This difference between the physical weight and 
strength of even identical twins often means that before 
birth one had a more favorable position for receiving 
nourishment and for growth than the other. There could 
be no more striking example of the fact that no two hu- 
man beings ever have exactly the same environment than 
this favoritism of chance, from the moment of concep- 


tion, in the most protected environment that human be- 
ings ever experience. It is possible, however, for the 
weaker of the twins, after a slow start, to go ahead faster 
than the more favorably born, until it catches up. 

Precisely this seems to have happened to Alice, whose 
twin Ardis had the head start. For, though Alice did not 
creep at all during the time when Ardis was learning 
first to creep and then to walk, suddenly at twenty 
months Alice stood up and walked. Again, Alice did not 
talk until she was twenty-two months old, while Ardis 
had been chattering unintelligible syllables for a couple 
of months. But then Alice more than made up for the 
difference. When she spoke her first words they were 
clear. She continued to speak distinctly while Ardis con- 
tinued her almost indistinguishable chatter. 

All this information came from the mother and checked 
with what she had told Miss Clark, but she did not seem 
to realize in the least that Alice, considering her original 
handicap, had accomplished more in two years than 
Ardis. The reason that this had escaped her seemed to 
lie in a tiny incident which had occurred when the twins 
were about two. This was the incident that had so im- 
pressed Miss Clark. Clearly it had permanently warped 
the mother's attitude toward Alice, although she dis- 
claimed it. 

The little family had just moved from the grandmoth- 
er's house to one next door, but the grandmother's influ- 
ence remained equally strong. This grandmother was 
still mourning her first grandchild, her oldest son's little 


daughter, Peggy, who had died before the twins were 
born. On her mantelpiece the grandmother kept en- 
shrined a doll which had belonged to Peggy. One day, 
soon after the twins had begun to walk and talk, they 
were in the grandmother's house, and Ardis reached up 
for Peggy's doll, which she had never noticed before. 

From that moment the grandmother devoted herself to 
Ardis and neglected Alice. She told Miss Clark how in- 
terested Ardis always was in the doll, how she called it 
"Peggy's doll" and asked questions about Peggy herself. 
The grandmother did not hesitate to draw strong contrast 
between the two children. Alice, she remarked caustically, 
was not interested in Peggy. She didn't have the heart that 
Ardis had, nor the brains. 

When she saw the twins playing in front of the house 
she would call Ardis in and leave Alice on the doorstep. 
If both had dirty faces, she would wash Ardis and leave 
Alice dirty. She began boasting to the neighbors and 
even to the people in the shops when she went marketing 
of what a wonderful grandchild she had. These people, 
knowing that Ardis was one of twins, began to ask what 
was the matter with the other twin. These details we 
learned gradually, through later visits, but the main inci- 
dent about the doll had been told at once on Miss Clark's 
first visit to the grandmother, and again by the mother 
at the clinic. 

The mother was sure she herself had no favorite, nor 
would she admit that she had been influenced by her 
mother. She said that her mother's obvious partiality to 


Ardis bothered her. But it was clear that she did not see 
any direct relationship between Alice's grouchiness and 
the grandmother's unkindness, or her own frequent scold- 
ing of the child. She had been too much impressed by the 
grandmother's belief in Ardis's inborn superiority to look 
for other reasons. She gave herself away as being really 
fonder of Ardis herself. It was late in the interview and 
with evident reluctance that she confessed for the first 
time that Ardis, too, was not faultless. 

Ardis, indeed, had a list of faults, when they came 
tumbling out. "She is jealous of everything Alice has and 
tries to take it away from her. She's been made too much 
of and likes to be babied. She's too bold sometimes. And 
she is disobedient, even more than Alice. Sometimes they 
listen when I speak but usually I have to spank them into 
minding. I always try to treat them alike, but with my 
mother near, it isn't easy, and I suppose Alice does gel 
jacked up quite a lot oftener than Ardis." 

When asked about the father's attitude toward the 
twins, she said he spoiled them both. But then he said 
she did too. She'd say "No" to the children, he would say 
she was right, but next minute he was helping them to 
what she had forbidden. 

With his information Alice and Ardis were each in- 
vited separately into the office to play "games." 

The result of the tests would have startled anyone im- 
pressed by the mother's account of the difference between 
the children. The two tests were practical duplicates. Not 
only were the final scores the same, showing that both 


children at two years and eight months had developed 
to exactly the same point of maturity, but often their very 
words were the same. It was not only that their intelli- 
gences were equal, but that they were the same. The 
children knew the same things, had the same opinions, 
did the same things under the same test, failed and suc- 
ceeded alike. To anyone unfamiliar with the ways of 
identical twins, there would have been something eerie 
about such similarity. 

But in the manner of approach, always an important 
part of the test, Ardis and Alice were different. Ardis was 
ready to plunge in with complete confidence, while Alice 
had to overcome her shyness first. In one quality Alice 
was definitely ahead — independence, shown both in the 
tests and in the playroom. One of the older children there 
had tried to help her put pegs into the holes of the peg- 
board, and she had become extremely resentful, pushing 
the girl's hands away. Most of the time she played alone, 
or trundled a doll-carriage by herself. In the meantime 
Ardis, spoiled and dependent on the attention of others, 
played with the older children who babied her until she 
saw Alice with the doll-carriage. Then she ran over and 
both struggled for it. First one would have it, then the 
other. The one who lost it would cry, but it was Alice 
who pouted for the longest time afterward. Although 
Alice was interested in everything in this strange play- 
room, she did not jump from one toy to another, as did 
Ardis. She tried to keep hold of each toy that was given 
her, or that she took, never relinquishing anything of hei 


own accord. She tried to pile everything into the doll- 
carriage, as if she had never had quite enough of anything. 

So Alice showed a persistence, independence and abil- 
ity to amuse herself superior to that of Ardis. These traits 
were certainly an asset, and Alice had probably wrested 
them from her struggles to attain what had come easily 
to Ardis. They were exhibitions of courage and initiative 
which gave strong hope for the child. But they were tied 
up with a frightened retreat and a graspingness that were 
distinctly liabilities. 

She did not make friends easily. She shrank from stran- 
gers. She had evidently given up any effort to win ap- 
proval, and had learned to shrink still further until she 
seemed to her mother to be sulking in corners. This did 
not help her with strangers or with those who judged her 
without pity or understanding of her discouragement. 
Yet at clinic when we tried to win her, even during the 
first visit she began to forget her fear and to smile and 
show herself as charming as Ardis. 

After they had gone, we began to analyze results, plus 
the information we had gathered. One little girl had 
reached for Peggy's doll and the other had not. That 
seemed to be the crux of the matter for Alice. This may 
have been the merest chance. We knew that Ardis had 
been the more active. We did not know how far Alice's 
independence had been developed at that time. Which- 
ever child reached for the doll would do so for the simple 
motives of any child. 

The grandmother's interpretation of sympathy for a 


ghostly cousin was an impossibility for a two-year-old, 
and was part of the myth the mourning grandmother 
had built for herself as a comfort for her loss. Her joyful 
response to Ardis's gesture taught the child a way to win 
attention and approval. Therefore she repeated it. Besides, 
she liked dolls. The grandmother's mistake in believing 
the child capable of realizing that the doll was sacred was 
an overestimation, just as the mother's belief that the 
children were not affected by what was said about them 
in their hearing was an underestimation. Both mistakes 
came from the absorption of a grown-up in her own 
grown-up wishes. Alice's passive unhappiness and not her 
jealousy is the first record of her reaction to her grand- 
mother's treatment and it stands in strong contrast with 
her sturdy ability to go ahead developing on her own dur- 
ing the following months. 

Alice's mother was evidently too unimaginative and 
too much under her own mother's influence to go be- 
neath the surface, and link the grandmother's attitude 
and Alice's unhappiness. For she was not indifferent. The 
fact that she took the child to the doctor proves that. 
Hope for Alice lay in opening her eyes. 

We assured her that Alice was not backward in ability, 
but was quite the equal of her twin. We explained as tact- 
fully and yet firmly as possible that her backwardness 
with people came from her experience of their unkind 
treatment and neglect. We tried to show her that it was 
unjust to punish or dislike the child for being unhappy 
and that it could only make her worse; that every effort 


must be made to enlist the grandmother's sympathy, so 
that she would treat both children more fairly, since her 
favoritism was bad for Ardis too. Finally we urged that 
the rest of the family should do everything possible to 
encourage Alice. 

The mother listened attentively and made us feel that 
she was determined to change the environment for Alice. 
As the year went on, however, we found that both she 
and her mother were always ready to agree with any ad- 
vice or suggestion, but that they never got further than 
that. At no time did they modify their treatment of the 
twins. Neither would they keep appointments with the 

During Miss Clark's follow-up visits at the home she 
found that the nagging and criticizing continued. Even 
the father, big and jovial, who insisted that he adored 
both children, had a special twinkle in his eye and a spe- 
cial tone in his voice for Ardis, who knew just how to 
cajole him. Alice was generally in a corner or under a 
bed. There was a young uncle living with the grand- 
mother next door, who was the only member of the fam- 
ily who preferred Alice. "She takes to me more," he said, 
"and she's much more sensitive. She cries when she's neg- 
lected for Ardis. They both quarrel a lot with each other." 

The grandmother, alone with Miss Clark, confided to 
her darkly that the loss of Peggy was due to neglect by 
her scatter-brained mother. 

"As I see the children," she said, "you could tell from 
the way Ardis looked up at you and pushed Alice away 


even when she was a baby that she was going to be boss. 
She's bright, remembers more things, and talks about 
them a long time afterwards. She's just like little Peggy." 

So now, from appreciating Peggy, Ardis had become 
just like Peggy. Thus the myth grew. 

The mother said Alice was less shy, but still had a long 
way to go. Both children were now seldom wet. The 
mother remarked that she would like to send the twins 
to kindergarten, but that they could not enter until they 
were past four. Miss Clark suggested that she send them to 
the nursery school not far away. And she also asked that 
the twins return to the Guidance Clinic before starting 
school, for a special test, although the usual space of a 
full year was not quite over. 

They came. Ardis danced about the playroom and of- 
fice, quite at home, and went through "the games" cheer- 
ily as before and with the same results as before, showing 
the expected nine months' maturing. 

But Alice! The sulky expression had deepened. Noth- 
ing we could do lightened it. She stood with her fingers 
in her mouth and her mother's, "Take those fingers out 
and speak up so the lady can hear you," or "When the 
doctor speaks to you, you're going to speak up loud, 
aren't you ?" did not help matters. Then the mother turned 
to me with, "She won't say a thing," while the child 
drooped beside her. 

During the tests it was as if the mother's last remark 
had been a command. Alice remained passive. She would 
not make an attempt. She did not cry. She managed a 


tiny smile for me; she occasionally answered in mono- 
syllables. But on questions she certainly knew she kept 
silent. It was impossible to give her a reliable rating. She 
seemed to be taking refuge in inaction, a marked contrast 
to her independence, persistence and activity during her 
first clinic visit. 

This pitiful change in the child had taken place despite 
all our efforts. The mother was talked to with unusual 
severity, but we all felt that the chief hope now was the 
nursery school. 

When the mother took the twins the first morning to the 
nursery school she brought down our hopes of re-education 
by remarking, in the children's hearing, "These children 
look alike, but they aren't alike. Ardis here is bright and 
friendly, but you'll have trouble with Alice. She's slow 
and unfriendly and sulky." 

The wise teachers, however, paid no attention to this, 
but welcomed both children with equal warmth, and 
from then on, while they remained at the nursery school, 
the reports about them were: "Indistinguishable. Two sun- 

This capacity for equal happiness and equal ability in 
response to equal treatment was the more impressive as 
we considered Alice's earlier experience and the continu- 
ing neglect at home. That is the joy of working with chil- 
dren. They want to be happy. They want to succeed. They 
respond so eagerly to any opportunity. But a short three 
months of this school-time equality was all Alice was to 


The day the twins were four and a half they failed to 
appear at nursery school. The family income had suffered 
a loss shortly after the children had started, and the nurs- 
ery school, unwilling to give up the children, had given 
them scholarships. But their mother could not bear to 
"receive charity," so at the first legal moment she had 
entered them in the public kindergarten. 

When we discovered what had happened, the mother 
was apologetic but firm. We felt anxious about the effect 
of less expert handling on Alice. For Ardis we had little 
fear. She could be counted on to smile her way anywhere. 

Miss Clark visited the kindergarten. It was a particu- 
larly poor sample, unfortunately. Alice was sitting tied to 
her chair. 

"She's always in mischief," said the teacher, "and has to 
be kept tied. We don't dare allow her out at recess. Her 
mother warned us when she brought the children that 
we'd have trouble with her. Ardis is much brighter. She 
follows directions quickly and joins in the games at once, 
while Alice has to be shown several times. Even then she 
seldom does the work at all, and she never joins in the 
group games." 

It was time to get ready to go home, and the teacher 
told the children to go for their rubbers. She untied Alice, 
but the child sat still and Ardis brought both pairs. Ardis 
started to put hers on alone, then came over to her old 
friend Miss Clark for help. Alice sat for some time with- 
out even picking up the rubbers or seeming to notice that 
the other children were preparing to go home. She looked 


numb with misery. Finally the teacher helped her on with 
the rubbers while she sat like a little wooden doll. 

Miss Clark told the teacher, after the children had gone, 
of the way the two children behaved in nursery school; 
both eager and active, both bright and lovable. When she 
said, "Alice never had to be punished. It was always Ardis 
who got into mischief," the teacher shook her head. 

"You have them mixed," she said. "And as for bright- 
ness, Alice is unusually dull. I'm having her transferred to 
a slow group in another room. Excuse me, I must go," as 
Miss Clark started to speak. 

At the next attempted visit to the home, shortly after, 
we found that the family, including the grandmother, 
had moved. They had gone west and all trace of them was 
lost, as they did not answer letters. We could do nothing 
more to save the day for little Alice. 

There was no doubt in our minds, both in the clinic and 
in the nursery school, that the children were equally intel- 
ligent and equally lovable, but the one had met with lov- 
ing response and the other had been forced to close in 
upon herself in defense against the constant rebuffs of 
home and school. Probably throughout her life she would 
never recover the elasticity and intellectual power that 
had been crushed out of her by misunderstanding and 

To anyone meeting the children in later years, seeing 
them so different, it would be a surprise to learn that they 
had been exactly alike in disposition and ability at the be- 
ginning, and that only circumstances had forced this dif- 



ference upon them. A drawing will illustrate this. Draw 
a V and cover all but the two upper points. Those two 
points will seem completely separate. 

With the paper folded, A and 
B seem two separate points. 

Open the paper and you see that 
A and B have a common begin- 
ning at V. 

Notice that just above V there is very little difference between 
the two individuals. 


The Only Boy and His Sister 


JivERY night between nine and ten o'clock he has these 
terrors. He wakes up shrieking, comes into the living room 
where his father and I are reading, crying and muttering 
about bears chasing him, and his eyes are closed all the 



time. He clings to us and goes from one to the other and 
we try to comfort him and waken him, but we never can. 
He stops crying and shaking after a while and in the 
morning he doesn't remember anything about it. It's piti- 
ful to see him, but he's so frantic with terror." 

Mrs. Coleman's voice shook. She looked weary and un- 

"Tell me about your other children and your family 
life," I said. "If I understand about that I'll be able to help 
you better. Something must be worrying Raymond. We'll 
work together to unearth it and then remove it." 

So Mrs. Coleman told of the three children, Louise, ten 
and a half, Raymond just eight and a new baby girl, only 
four months old. 

Mr. Coleman was a business man, quick-tempered, irri- 
table, interested only in his son. He would roar for quiet 
and was not cooperative in the handling of the children. 
He thought he provided a comfortable home and there 
ended his responsibilities. 

It had been a great disappointment to him to have his 
first child a girl and the boy was overwhelmingly wel- 
comed. Mrs. Coleman herself was just as delighted with a 
daughter, but she felt badly to have disappointed her hus- 
band. Yes, Louise knew all about this. She had heard it 
often enough, that she ought to have been a boy. Then she 
was tall, very tall for her age, and very mature, both physi- 
cally and mentally, so that everyone thought she was thir- 
teen, while Raymond was unusually small for eight. Peo- 
ple were always saying what a pity it was that the girl had 


the height and physique instead of the boy. Both children 
had heard this often. 

Louise had been a healthy baby, and in school she al- 
ways did fine work. She was the youngest in her class, but 
was the president and had the highest grades. She had the 
leading part in the school play, and stood high in her 
scout troop. But at home she was different. She became 
indignant if she were asked to stop reading to help with 
some household task. Indeed, she thought she ought never 
to be asked to do anything about the house. She flew into 
violent rages if crossed, because she wanted to be treated 
like a princess in one of her fairy tales. 

"Outsiders think she is charming. You would find her 
so, I'm sure, but at home we only see her selfish, lazy, and 
so impudent I can't stand it. I'm not strong since the baby 
came and between her language to me and her quarrels 
with Raymond and Raymond's terrors, I'm nearly at the 
end of my rope. If you can't help me — " her voice broke. 

"I'm sure we can. Go on and tell me about her and Ray- 

"Well, she seems to have a special spite against him. 
The minute the two of them are in the house she starts 
teasing him. And she's always complaining that he doesn't 
do his share and that I never ask him to do anything to 
help. She says I keep picking on her, and it's complaint 
and temper until I lose mine and yell at her. Then she 
rushes to her room, saying that she hates us all, especially 
her little brother." 

The little brother— how the mother's voice softened! No 


question of who was the favorite in this house! Raymond 
was smart. Everyone remarked on how smart he was. He 
was handsome. He was very loving to his mother. He had 
had one serious illness as an infant. 

Poor boy, his life was made a misery by his sister. She 
was always yelling at him for something or other and of 
course he had to stand up for himself. So the house was in 
constant tumult and mother and father had to yell louder 
than the children to be heard at all. 

When did the night-terrors start ? She couldn't remem- 
ber exactly. About three months ago, she guessed. The 
time was interesting for she had just said the baby was 
four months old. Did Raymond show any other nervous 
habits? Yes, indeed. He was very nervous, jumpy and 
fussy. If things weren't arranged the way he liked them 
he would fuss until they were put right. He was a crank 
about food; wouldn't touch anything but meat, and his 
mother or father had to sit with him, especially to get milk 
in any form down. As for vegetables, they'd given up ! His 
sleeping had always been restless, but he had never had 
night-terrors until the last three or four months. 

Mr. Coleman was a high-strung person, too. He'd come 
home tired from business and the children's fighting would 
drive him crazy. You'd think Louise would pay attention 
to him when he spoke but she just yelled back at him and 
both got madder and madder. No, he didn't scold Ray- 
mond, because it was Louise who was the bigger and al- 
ways started the trouble, and, of course, Raymond was the 
apple of his eye. 


I asked about the new baby girl and discovered that she 
had come as a somewhat unwelcome surprise. She was not 
a strong baby and took a great deal of the mother's time. 
The two older children were not interested in her. 

"I'd like to talk with both children and will make ap- 
pointments with you for them to come in separately. 
Meanwhile you might try a little experiment with Ray- 
mond. If you decide to do it, let me know how it comes 
out," I suggested. 

"What do you mean?" 

"It's this. I'd like to have you and your husband out of 
the house at the time Raymond usually has his night- 
terror. Can you get someone to stay with the children? 
Your cook will stay up ? Good. Be sure to get home well 
past the time he might be getting up. I want to know how 
he will act when you are not there, since you say you have 
never dared to leave him. Will you do this?" 

"If you say so, but will the cook be able to manage him ? 
Still we'll do it, and I'll phone you tomorrow." 

Next morning early the telephone rang. Mrs. Coleman's 
voice, excited and somewhat abashed, blurted out the re- 
sults of the experiment. 

"We went off after Raymond was in bed and without 
saying anything to him. The cook said that about ten he 
came into the sitting room where she was, with his usual 
frightened crying. Then he stopped, before she could say 
a word, opened his eyes and stared at her. Then he turned 
around and went quickly back to bed! Imagine! Does that 
mean he has been playing tricks on us all this time ?" 


"It is certainly interesting and will help us. No, I do not 
believe it was a planned trick, but only a half-conscious 
attempt to get more of your attention and affection. He 
has been resenting, perhaps, your giving so much time to 
the baby. But we'll go into that when you come. Mean- 
while I'll talk with each child. After that we will have a 
basis for our plans. As for yourself, it might be well if you 
and your husband could plan to do a lot of visiting the 
next few evenings, and see what happens to the night- 

Raymond walked in that afternoon, a tiny figure with 
immense dark eyes and a face and body so small that in- 
stead of eight, he looked like a precocious six-year-old. 
Hearing him talk, however, he seemed ten, and well read 
at that, so large and mature was his vocabulary. It was not 
hard to win his confidence and then came his story, much 
like his mother's. 

Life at home was bitter because of Louise's meanness 
and selfishness, her tormenting of him chiefly by gibes 
and sarcasms, and her fury when he tried to tease her 
back. Underneath his words was evident a passionate re- 
sentment that she was there at all. It was as if he said, "It 
is unfair for her to be the oldest, ordering me about. I am 
a boy. The boy should be the oldest and the master here. 
Besides, she is tall and strong while I am small and weak. 
I, the boy, should be the big, strong, oldest one." And so, 
humiliated in his masculine dignity, infuriated, jealous, 
he fought her with all his power. Although he would not 
admit ever starting the quarrels, he was so careful to throw 


all the blame on her that we suspected that he was not so 
innocent as he tried to make out. 

Of the new baby he said only that she was too little to 
be interesting and that she took all his mother's time. 
Again, what he did not say told more than what he did 

Both at school and at play, his small size rankled deeply. 
He was made to feel it constantly. No, he never remem- 
bered anything about his sleep-walking, but he did have 
the same kind of dream almost every night. There were 
two bears, one big and one little, who always chased him. 
He would run till his breath gave out, and they would 
catch him at the bank of the river when he fell breathless. 
Then he would wake up. 

It might be that the bears represented his two sisters, 
the big one and the baby, both threatening his importance 
in the family. A little later this could be explained to him. 
Even his mother had not yet grasped the significance of 
the fact that the night-terrors had begun only after the 
arrival of the new baby, when Raymond was suddenly 
bereft of her constant and almost eight-year-long solici- 

"How do you feel about this walking in your sleep, Ray- 
mond? Do you like it or do you want to stop?" I asked. 

"Sure I want to stop, but how can I when I don't re- 
member doing it? It isn't as if I did it on purpose." 

"I'm going to tell you something that is rather strange, 
but it is true just the same. Sometimes we really do some- 
thing on purpose that we don't know anything about. It 


is as if there were two selves inside us, the one that we 
know about, that eats and sleeps and gets excited and all 
that, and another self that stays underneath, that never 
sleeps, and that remembers things the self we know has 
forgotten. That self that never sleeps and never forgets we 
will call your unconscious self, and it likes to stay a baby 
and be waited on and taken care of the way you were 
when you were tiny. 

"Now what I think is this: that unconscious self of 
yours misses being the baby. It thinks your mother pays 
too much attention to the new baby and not enough to //. 
It knows you are a big boy and wouldn't think of being 
jealous of a tiny sick baby, so it has to try some other way 
to get your mother's attention, and it hit on this scheme 
of waking up at night crying and running out to her and 
your father." 
"Gee, that's queer. Why, that's a baby trick!" 
"Yes, isn't it? You'd never stand for such a thing, of 
course. I know of a lot of other boys and girls who have 
had just such tricks played on them by their unconscious 
selves. Did your parents tell you what happened last night, 
when they went to the theater ? No ? Well, you got up as 
usual and when you did not find them in the living room, 
you turned around and went quietly back to bed." 
"I did, did I? I should think I'd have yelled harder." 
"It seemed as if your unconscious self had said, 'No use, 
so long as mother and dad aren't here.' So that made me 
think of a way that might help spoil that silly's game. 
Most babies don't like cold water. Suppose you say to your 


parents, 'Tonight, i£ I get up, will you stick my hands into 
a basin of cold water? If that doesn't wake me up and 
make me stop crying, drop me into the bathtub filled with 
cold water. That will surely do it.' " 

"Oh, no, no! I hate cold water! I never could do that!" 

"That's just the point, Raymond. This unconscious self 
hates cold water, too, and it hears every word we are say- 
ing. If it \nows you have made up your mind to take even 
a plunge into cold water in order to stop that baby trick, it 
will give up and let you sleep straight through." 

By this time Raymond had caught the idea. His eyes 

"I see! We'll fool that baby! I'll run right home and 
tell them, and I'll telephone you tomorrow." 

"Fine. I know you'll have a grand sleep tonight." 

And he did. The suggestion did its work. 

The next afternoon a rather reluctant Louise appeared, 
tall, mature for her ten years. It seemed ridiculous that 
there were only two and a half years between her and her 
tiny brother. Poised, courteous, a bit ultra-dignified and 
stiff until the friendly atmosphere thawed her out, she 
seemed quite a woman of the world. Once she began talk- 
ing, however, deep and violent emotions showed. Her 
story differed from her mother's and Raymond's, though 
it, too, was bitter. 

She had missed none of the innuendoes about the bad 
luck of having a girl the oldest, and how much more im- 
portant and satisfying it was to have a son than a daugh- 
ter. She felt that she was merely tolerated, not loved. Her 


parents had only enough love for Raymond because he 
was the precious boy. She was full of hatred and revenge 
toward father and mother as well as brother. All of them 
had played her false. She felt like a stranger in the house, 
and that was why she wouldn't do her share. 

As to the quarreling with Raymond, the little imp 
egged her on. He'd slip up and jog her elbow if she were 
writing. He'd switch off the lights if she were reading, or 
yell in her ear. Naturally she hit back, and then it was al- 
ways her fault. The cry-baby went whining to mama and 
got petted and it was Louise who was scolded and pun- 
ished. Raymond was never asked to do a thing around the 
house. He was a boy. Everyone had to wait on him. She 
was sick of it all. At school she was happy. They liked her 
there, treated her as if she were worthwhile. She hated go- 
ing home. 

Such an unhappy child! She was right, too, in much 
that she believed about her parents' feelings. But of course, 
she was not forwarding her own cause by the methods she 
was pursuing. In order to help her we tried to get her to 
see something of her brother's difficulties. 

His anguish over his small size was described to her. 
This was a new idea, and she was somewhat softened at 
first; then frankly rejoiced to know that he had something 
that wasn't just the way he wanted it. Rather doubtfully 
she agreed to try the receipt against teasing that nearly 
always wins a victory: a calm ignoring of the teasing or 
an apparent enjoyment of it. To safeguard her precious 


reading, she decided to try it out for one week and then 

On the steps going out she met her mother coming in. 
Instantly her face hardened. Her lips tightened. The 
mother merely said, 

"Hurry home and help set the table for dinner." 

Louise's tight lips opened into harsh tones that had not 
been heard as she talked with us. Insulting, defiant, she 
hurled refusals at her mother as she sped to the gate. 

Mrs. Coleman sank into a chair. 

"There, what did I tell you!" she exclaimed. "Now you 
see I didn't exaggerate. I'm glad you got that side of her. 
What makes her so hateful? But about Raymond. He 
slept straight through last night." 

"I'm so glad. And I'm glad you came in, because now 
that I have come to know both children and their points 
of view, I'm in a position to be of real help in getting the 
household peaceful and cooperative." 

Then I told her, as tactfully as possible, of the suffering 
of each child, and the misunderstandings under which 
each was laboring. I did not say that her favoritism for 
the boy stood out so plainly that it was no wonder that 
the girl's nose was out of joint. That would have been too 
painful for her just then. It was enough for her to know 
that her daughter was unhappy thinking she wasn't loved 
or wanted, and that it was unhappiness that was making 
her irritable. I pointed out to her that Raymond's night- 
terrors started when the new baby came and explained 


that it meant that he felt lost and bewildered and was try- 
ing to force her back to him. This was something she 
could understand without blaming herself too bitterly. 
Too great self -blame is not a wholesome thing. She would 
be better able to change her attitude if she could think she 
had only been somewhat mistaken. 

"It will be very difficult to make my husband see this, 
though," she said. "He thinks all this sort of thing is non- 
sense although I must admit he is impressed at the way 
Raymond's night-terrors have yielded to the treatment you 
suggested. I wish he could talk with you himself, but he'd 
never come, I know. He might if you asked him. I wouldn't 
dare suggest it. Could you ring up at dinner tonight, and 
speak to him yourself?" 

So that night I rang the Coleman number. Mrs. Cole- 
man answered. The telephone was apparently in the din- 
ing room for as she called her husband, the entire conver- 
sation between them was audible. Gruffly he roared that 
people ought to know better than to ring up at meal 
times ; that the children were well and that he couldn't be 
bothered giving up his time to go and talk to a lot of old 
women. He could deal with his own children and didn't 
want any advice from an outsider. He refused flatly to go 
to the telephone. 

We never saw any of them again. Mrs. Coleman did not 
keep appointments she had made for herself or the chil- 
dren. Perhaps she had been forbidden them by her husband. 
She telephoned occasionally that the night-terrors were less- 
ened; then that they were gone. But the quarreling con- 


tinued and Louise was as hateful as ever. I never had 
another opportunity to help with Raymond's eating diffi- 
culties. Louise's school work went well, however, and that, 
no doubt, together with her reading, would compensate 
her for her unhappiness at home. 

A fighting child, Louise is fairly sure to work out a use- 
ful life. Whether she will make a happy and successful 
marriage is another question. She has seen nothing in 
her own home that will influence her toward marriage. 
Her parents' attitude toward each other would be apt to 
warn her against marrying. On the other hand, she may 
eagerly accept the attentions of the first man who notices 
her, in order to reassure herself that she is lovable, after 
all. She may start a home of her own, as different as pos- 
sible from the unhappy pattern of her childhood, and try 
to make up to her own children for what she had suf- 
fered. She may spoil them, as a reaction from her own 
mother. One thing is certain. She will never be fond of 

Raymond, pampered, demanding and receiving, never 
giving, is in much more danger of meeting difficulties that 
will thwart him. Life is hard for a child who has been 
catered to, for he can never understand why the world 
does not accept him at the valuation that his parents set 
upon him. He feels abused when anything is demanded 
of him and may either give up and become a failure, or 
become suspicious and resentful. He is not likely to marry, 
at least so long as his mother is alive. She makes life easy 
for him while others want to load him with responsibili- 


ties. If he does establish a family of his own, he is likely 
to relax upon its bosom and allow himself to be cared for 
and waited on, again the beloved, protected child, or, in- 
dignant at finding that his wife expects responsibility of 
him, he may turn to the divorce court. 


"I don't know what's got into Jimmie, he's so bad," his 
mother said to me one late spring day. "Do you think it 
could be the weather?" 

"Just what does he do?" I asked. 

"He's taken to breaking or spoiling Sally Ann's things, 
and he flies into tempers and is disobedient and defiant," 
she answered. 

"Does he attack Sally Ann?" 

"No, only her things, or else he spoils what she is do- 
ing," replied his mother. "Of course that starts trouble, 
but he never goes for her directly." 

"And since when has he been acting this way ?" 

"We've only noticed it since after Easter vacation." 

I began putting two and two together. At Easter Sally 
Ann had gone off with her grandmother for a week in the 
country. They had always gone off together since she was 
three. Jimmie had never seemed to notice it before. This 
time, however, now that he was five, we had realized that 
he might feel left out, so we had made it our business, his 
parents and I, to fill that Easter vacation with all sorts of 
delightful excursions. We took him to the aquarium, we 


watched all kinds of boats on the Battery, we went on a 
ferry-boat, and, above all, we crossed to the Jersey shore 
and walked back across the marvelous George Washing- 
ton Bridge that Jimmie had talked and chanted about 
since the day, two years before, that he had seen the cen- 
tral section high in the sky in the clutch of a giant crane, 
then dropped into place. 

Jimmie had thrown himself into everything with joyous 
abandon, and we had flattered ourselves that he had seen 
and done so many things his sister had not that he would 
have even more to tell her than she to tell him. That way, 
we reasoned, he would feel that this time he and not she 
was the privileged one. 

Our expectations, we decided, had been fulfilled. We 
had overheard the children capping each other's stories 
of the marvels they had seen. As usual, Jimmie's ability to 
multiply wonders outdistanced Sally Ann's. We smiled at 
one another and felt that we had done well. 

But had we ? That was the moment when the naughti- 
ness had broken out. It was so unlike Jimmie to be bad- 
tempered and destructive. Something must be making him 
act that way. 

Exaggeration usually means insecurity. Bragging always 
does. Hadn't we been confusing Jimmie's ability to cap 
stories with real satisfaction ? It flashed upon me that Jim- 
mie might not have had such a good time after all. 

From our grown-up standpoint he was a fortunate little 
boy, whose relatives took a lot of trouble to please him. 
But his point of view was completely different. The desir- 


able thing, the enviable thing, was the trip, the long- 
prepared-for, much-talked-about trip to the farm with its 
chickens and pigs, with grandma always taking Sally Ann 
and never Jimmie. A ferry-boat and a bridge were all 
right. But they didn't alter the fact that he'd never, never 
taken the trip with grandma to the farm. 

I explained this. 

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the grandmother. "Sally Ann 
and I didn't do anything exciting, and from what you've 
told me, you all turned yourselves inside out to entertain 
the young gentleman. It's only the spring weather that's 
making him irritable, or he may be sickening with some- 

"There's something else I want to ask," I went on, ig- 
noring the grandmother's remark. "Haven't you been talk- 
ing about summer plans recently?" 

"Only the usual ones," answered the mother. "Mother 
will take Sally Ann with her to the springs for a couple 
of weeks as soon as school closes, and they'll come back 
when we've moved to the country for the summer." 

"The children have heard you talking, I suppose?" 

"Oh, yes, I'm sure they have. I see what you're driving 
at: Jimmie is eaten up with jealousy. I'd wanted mother 
to go away alone and get a real rest those two weeks, but 
she insisted she'd be too lonesome. Having Sally Ann 
alone with her, she says, is just the kind of rest she needs. 
And all this talk of Sally Ann's going off again, coming 
on top of the Easter trip, must have been too much for 


poor Jim. Still, why hasn't he quarreled with Sally Ann ? 
She's the chief offender. She got what he wanted." 

"He is hurting her, it seems to me," I answered, "only, 
since he loves and admires her so much, he doesn't attack 
her directly." 

"Oh!" exclaimed the mother. "Now I see! He's reveng- 
ing himself on her through destroying things she values, 
and on us he's being direct in his attack because we've 
neglected him for her, because we've treated him as un- 
important. I see it now from his point of view. He's never 
been on a train. He's never gone off on a big trip with any 
of us. Well, the next question is, what to do about it ? We 
can't afford extra excursions just now. I can't ask mother 
to take him instead of Sally Ann, because he is noisier and 
harder to manage, and she needs the rest. Do you think a 
Sunday trip alone with either his father or me would 
satisfy him?" 

"It would help, no doubt," said I, "and here's another 
suggestion. As soon as school closes, let me take him with 
me on a week's visit to my old college chum up on her 
farm above Albany. Her little Cherry is just Jimmie's age. 
Cherry and Lenore have been anxious for me to bring the 
children up there, and I was going to ask if I might take 
them both, but now let it be only Jim. We'll go on the 
night-boat, so that he'll have a traveling experience that 
Sally Ann has never had, and we'll come back on the 
train. I'll write and ask Lenore if we may come during 
the early vacation, and then we'll tell Jimmie and Sally 
Ann so the idea may be sinking in." 


"Splendid!" exclaimed their mother. 

"It will be terribly hard on Sally Ann to be left behind," 
objected the grandmother. "She's always been so interested 
in what you've told her about your friend's little girl." 

"Hard or not, it will be good for her," interposed her 
daughter. "Sally Ann needs to know how it feels to be 
left behind. She's never had a chance to learn that. She'll 
get as much out of the experience as Jimmie." 

"I'll write Lenore tonight," I promised. 

Lenore answered at once and we let it be known that 
during the summer vacation Jimmie and auntie were go- 
ing to the farm where Cherry lived, and Cherry was "five 
'n a half" just like Jimmie. Sally Ann asked if she weren't 
to go too. 

"No," I told her, "not this time. This is Jimmie's turn, 
and besides, he's the one my friend Lenore invited be- 
cause he's just as old as Cherry." 

Sally Ann accepted this cheerfully. Her good cheer 
lasted until we actually stood on the dock at 125th Street, 
waiting for the Albany boat to come up the river from 
Barclay Street, one evening in July. We all ate a picnic 
supper together sitting on boxes on the pier and watching 
the boats pass by. Jimmie had his own suitcase which he 
would allow no one to touch, and I had my bag and a 
typewriter and special kind of cake I knew Cherry liked. 
The children had helped me buy it. 

Suddenly a big whistle boomed and the boat came swing- 
ing in. The next moment Sally Ann had pulled me into a 


corner and was whispering, her arms around my neck, 
"Oh, auntie, I'd li\e to go too!" 

"And I'd like to have you," I answered. "Maybe there'll 
be another chance to go again before long." 

Then the gangplank was down and with a whirlwind 
of hugs Jimmie shouldered his suitcase and lugged it 
proudly up the sloping bridge to the ship's gaping side. 
He took one hasty look around the big saloon upstairs 
with its hundreds of doors and then he hurried out to the 
rail to wave goodbye, his cap like a windmill. Everything 
interested him; the cabin door which he opened himself, 
with the big key the officer had smilingly handed to him 
instead of to me; the two white bunks, one on top of the 
other; the great glass window where one could linger and 
see the machinery pumping up and down; the decks, the 
lights along the darkening shores; going under the very 
George Washington Bridge we had walked across, and 
finally getting into the lower bunk and watching his 
auntie climb into the upper, listening to the tooting of the 
whistles, until, suddenly, silence and the early sun of a 
summer morning. 

The visit began at once, with the two children adopting 
each other as cousins after the first half hour. Jimmie had 
a tiny room off mine. In the morning when I woke he was 
standing beside me fully dressed, hair even brushed. 

"Auntie," he said, "I've made my bed, so the maid won't 
have extra work to do. I'm going to make it every morn 


He did, too. He never forgot. Later, when we were 
home again, I asked his mother what she had told him to 
be sure to do on the visit. 

"Just one thing," she said, "not to let you have to re- 
mind him to brush his teeth." 

"You didn't tell him to make his bed, or to thank his 
hostess when he left, or to be a good boy?" 

"No, all I spoke of was the tooth brushing." 

"We were amazed, even though we thought you surely 
must have told him to do all these things, for he was so 
steady and responsible and so appreciative. He enjoyed 
everything, and spoke his appreciation so heartily that 
he'll be welcome there as soon and as often as he can 
come. He did another thing during the week that touched 
me. Several times he came running up to me, threw his 
arms around my waist and said, 'You're the nicest auntie 
and the sweetest auntie and the prettiest auntie and the 
smartest auntie in all the world!' At first I thought it was 
to cover a touch of homesickness. Then I realized it was 
something more. It was as if he were trying to say thank 
you to me for having given him back his self-respect." 

"That's really wonderful," exclaimed his mother. "But 
weren't there any squabbles between him and Cherry?" 

"Outside of capping number stories there was really 
only one. The two children were upstairs playing. Lenore 
was in town. Suddenly I heard screams of anger and a 
crash, and the two came tearing down to me, pouring out 
indignant, confused accusations, one against the other, of 
taking more than his half of the blocks. 


"Of course you know I never take sides in a children's 
quarrel. The real beginnings are so veiled and one so 
often goes wrong. So I said, 'As long as you aren't happy 
playing together, why don't you each play alone ? There 
are lots of other rooms, and acres and acres outdoors,' and 
I returned to my book. The two went back upstairs and I 
could hear the sounds of friendly play. 

"Then there was the train trip home. Can you imagine 
what are the two important things about going on a train 
in Jimmie's mind?" 

"The bigness and rush of it, I suppose," said his mother. 

"No. One was the porter's stool, to climb aboard on, and 
the other was having tomato bouillon as Sally Ann did at 
the little table the porter set up between the seats of the 

"At Albany the train pulls in and out from platforms 
level with the train platform, and Jimmie had only seen 
trains at the country station where Sally Ann got on and 
off. I saw his mouth droop and quiver and then his eyes 
brightened and he gave a shout as he spied the stool back 
in the corner of the train platform." 

"I feel ashamed of myself," said the mother ruefully, 
"for not realizing how he must have felt." 

But this I would not let stand. 

"No one can get so completely inside another person's 
mind as to always know the right thing to do or say. After 
all, we haven't found out yet whether we were right or 
wrong about the cause of it. We'll have to see whether the 
naughtinesses lessen now that he's home again." 


As week after week went by we decided that our theory 
had been right. Sally Ann's things were no longer de- 
stroyed. The bursts of temper and defiance did not come 
again except at rare intervals when something would hap- 
pen that offended his budding dignity and sense of fair- 
ness. We could not cavil at those outbursts. We could trace 
them, generally, to our own mistakes in handling, or to 
some queer childish twist of logic on his part. 

It was only after it was all over that I realized how liter- 
ally his mind had worked and how literal were his needs 
and satisfactions. 

Sally Ann went to a farm. 

He went to a farm. 

Sally Ann rode on a train. 

He rode on a train. 

Sally Ann was chosen to go on a trip with one of the 
grown-ups of the family. 

He was chosen to go on a trip with one of the grown- 
ups of the family. 

Thus he was definitely and literally on a level with her, 
not below her. This trip succeeded where all our sight- 
seeing at Easter had failed. Our grown-up point of view 
of relative values was too complicated for the five-year-old. 
He wanted to go to a farm too. 

There were no Easter trips the following year. Just be- 
fore the summer vacation Jimmie's mother telephoned 
to me. 


"Jimmie's been impossible these last two days," she said. 
"I can't imagine what's the matter with him." 

"Haven't you and his grandmother been talking about 
her going to the farm again for a couple of weeks with 
Sally Ann?" 

"Why, of course! We've been planning that, and while 
Sally Ann is gone, Jimmie is to go out with the club, that 
little play group he's visited and enjoyed. And now he 
feels discriminated against again! How stupid of me not 
to have thought of that! Can't you come out this after- 
noon ? Maybe you can talk with him and find out if that's 
what it really is?" 

Up at Jimmie's house he took me to his room to see a 
drawing he'd just finished. I took the opportunity to ask, 
"Who is the luckiest, you or Sally Ann — she going to the 
farm and you going out with the club?" 

Jimmie hesitated. "You guess first," he said finally. 

"Well, I guess you, because you're going to do all the 
things I like, hiking and swimming and cooking out- 
doors. Now you guess." 

"I guess Sally Ann 'cause she's going to milk the cows 
and feed the chickens and pick the peas. I'm mad at my 

There it was — out at last— the hurt that had been fes- 
tering in Jimmie's heart. He'd said it himself. Now I could 
help him directly. 

"Jimmie, I believe you think your grandma doesn't love 
you as much as she does Sally Ann. Is that it ?" 

He nodded. 


"She does love you, only she loves you in a different 
way, because you and Sally Ann are different kinds of 
people. I love you this much (measuring off a space with 
my hands to my right) on this side, and I love Sally Ann 
just this much (measuring off the same space to my left) 
on this side. Do you see ? 

"Now, here's another thing. Did you know grandma 
wanted to take both of you to the farm with her?" 

Jimmie shook his head. 

"But you know she's been sick and mommie said two 
children would make her too tired, and she shouldn't take 
anybody, but just have a good rest. But grandma said she 
had to have one child for company. So mommie said, 
'Then you must take the quieter one,' and, Jimmie, who 
would that be?" 

"Sally Ann," he admitted, then began talking joyously 
about his drawing. 

The naughtiness stopped then and there. 


When They Couldn't Get What They Wanted 



immie's father was proud of having worked out a prob- 
lem of discipline by himself. 

The screen door of the kitchen showed a large, jagged 
hole. The hole had not been there the night before. It was 



too hot to shut the wooden door and the flies were thick. 

Katy, the cook, was furious. 

"It's Jimmie, ma'am," she sputtered to Jimmie's mother, 
who had just appeared for breakfast. "Didn't I catch him 
scampering off the back porch ? You know how crazy he 
is after anything that'll cut, and that hole's cut with a 
knife and not torn. And my best paring knife's turned up 

"Very well, Katy, I'll look into it and we'll have the 
screen mended at once. If Jimmie comes around, act as if 
nothing had happened. If he calls your attention to the 
cut screen, just say, 'Yes, your mother is going to have it 
fixed.' Which way did he go?" 

Katy looked her scorn as she pointed. 

Jimmie's mother followed the trail into the shrubbery. 
It had rained during the night and there were the prints 
of small feet. In the thickest part, where his mother had 
to stoop, lay something faintly shining. It was the paring 
knife. Knives were among the "shall not's" for five-year- 
old Jimmie. Yet this episode was only the latest of a series 
of cuts and nicks on furniture, knees and tablecloths, and 
even Sally Ann's dresses. 

With evidence thus complete, his mother returned and 

This incident occurred during that unhappy summer 
before Jimmie went to Albany with me, while he still felt 
discriminated against because his grandmother had taken 
Sally Ann on trips with her. Every little while he felt he 
had to revenge himself on the family. 


No one would have called Jimmie an unhappy child as 
he sauntered in to breakfast, hips swinging in a definite 
swagger. He seemed, rather, drunk with power. But want- 
ing power when you feel you haven't got it, or haven't 
enough, is an unhappiness. 

His eyes, turning a sidelong glance at his mother, be- 
trayed him. His father had taken an early train to town, 
and only his mother, his grandmother, Sally Ann and 
himself were at the table. As he caught his mother's eye, 
he stopped short, thrust a finger into each ear and cried 
out, "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!" 

His family knew this gesture. It meant guilt, discovered 
or undiscovered. As his mother rose from her chair, Jim- 
mie started to run, fingers still in ears, but the door had 
closed behind him. He backed up against it. His mother 
put her hands over his and pulled the fingers out of the 
ears. Jimmie screwed his eyes tight shut. 

"I won't listen. I don't hear you," he repeated over and 
over. She spoke against his words, quietly but firmly: 

"Daddy gets home at noon today. When he comes we 
shall talk about two things: first, about your taking a 
knife when you have been told not to touch one, and, sec- 
ond, about your cutting the kitchen screen. Now sit down 
and eat your breakfast." 

Jimmie did, squirming. He played quietly all morning 
with Sally Ann. When his father returned the child greeted 
him with less than his usual exuberance, but father was 
jolly and full of jokes that made everybody laugh. 

After lunch mother took Jimmie and his father for a 


walk in the garden, and as they walked she told the story 
of the cut screen, how Jimmie had run when Katy ap- 
peared, and had dropped the paring knife in the shrub- 
bery. She did not turn on Jimmie and ask, "Did you cut 
that screen?" for she knew she must not force him into a 
position where fear might make him deny that he had 
done the cutting. She showed Jimmie as she talked that 
she knew he had. 

"Of course the screen has to be fixed," said his father. 
"Perhaps it is already." 

"Yes, I telephoned and had a man come with a new 
piece at once. We couldn't let in the flies," answered his 

"How much did it cost?" asked his father. 

"Forty-five cents, to come way out here to do it," said 
the mother. 

"But who is to pay that forty-five cents?" asked the 
father. "I didn't cut the screen. Ought I to pay for it?" 
He looked from his wife to Jimmie and back again. 

Jimmie's eyes were wide. He slowly shook his head. 

"Mommie didn't do it. Ought she to pay for it?" asked 
his father again. 

Another shake. 

"Grannie didn't do it," went on his father. "Ought she 
to pay for it ? Sally Ann didn't do it. Ought she to pay for 
it? Katy didn't do it. Ought she to pay for it?" 

At each name Jimmie shook his head. 

"You did it, Jimmie. Oughtn't you to pay for it?" 

"But how can I ? I've only got seven pennies. And I get 


two pennies a week. It'll take too very, very long to get 
forty-five cents!" 

Forty cents to Jimmie was an immeasurable sum. Fifty 
was his limit of credible bigness. He talked glibly of thou- 
sands and millions, but those, of course, were merely 
dream words. Fifty was tangible and awesome. 

"How about this?" proposed his father. "We can't keep 
the man waiting for his money all that long time. I'll pay 
the man and you pay me all you can each week. Would 
you like to earn some money to help pay for it?" 

Jimmie nodded. 

"We don't pay for helping around the house," went on 
the father, "because we all do everything we can to make 
our home comfortable and pretty and happy, but some- 
times there may be extra jobs to pay for, and besides, there 
is another way I've just thought of. Doesn't mommie let 
you and Sally Ann have a cool drink or an icecream cone 
in the village on hot days ?" 


"Well, every one of those drinks and cones cost money." 

"Five cents," murmured Jimmie. 

"Suppose you don't take one. That means five cents 
mommie doesn't have to pay out, and there it is, still in 
her purse, and she'll give it to me and that pays me back 
five cents each time toward the screen bill." 

"Daddy, I won't take a single icecream cone, not even 
a strawberry one, not ever, ever," Jimmie promised ear- 

"I didn't say you mustn't take any, you know. But every 


time you don't take one, you put down a mark in that 
little book I gave you to keep in your pocket, and mom- 
mie will put down a mark in her book, so she can tell me, 
too, and that way I'll know when I'm all paid back. See, 
I'll write down your name, and screen here in my note 

"But, daddy, I said not ever, till I pay it all, and I mean 
not ever." 

"Just the way you like, son. Here, mother, is the forty- 
five cents to pay the man when you go to the village." 

"I'll get my seven cents, daddy, and you mark it down," 
and Jimmie scampered toward the house. 

He returned with the pennies tight in his fist, handed 
them to his father, watched the process of opening the 
new account in the two notebooks, then shifted uneasily 
from foot to foot. 

"What is it, son?" 

"Hurry up, daddy, I'm waiting." 

"Waiting for what?" 

" 'Bout my taking the knife." 

"Well, what do you think about it yourself?" 

Jimmie grew even more solemn. "I been thinking," he 
said. "I been thinking and thinking, all this very morn- 
ing. Daddy, when I get to be seven can I have a knife ? I'll 
be awf'lly big then." 

"That's a pretty good idea, it seems to me. Mother, what 
do you think?" 

"Seven is big. I think yes," she said smiling. 

Jimmie bounced up and down in excitement. The fact 


that the knife was still two years away from his pocket 
made no difference. He would have a knife and he was 
out from under the heavy cloud of disapproval. He danced 
off to tell Sally Ann that when he was old and as big as 
she was he'd have a knife. Sally Ann, in his eyes, was as 
grown-up as his parents and grandmother. A different 
kind of grown-upness, of course, but quite as important. 

The weather turned particularly warm within the next 
few days, and Sally Ann had an almost daily cone or soda. 
But Jimmie valiantly refused. Instead, he would pull out 
his notebook with a business-like air and make his wavery 
figures up to ten. Marks he scorned. He was a big boy 
who could write figures. Numbers had always interested 
him. Each time he reached ten he began over. He kept 
track, in some mysterious way of his own, of just where 
he stood in the payment of his debt. 

Shortly before the summer was over, he announced to 
his father, "Here's the last three numbers. Gee, I hope it's 
hot tomorrow! Boy, won't I get a big icecream cone!" 

In telling me of this experience his father said proudly, 
"It wasn't only what he learned in the way of money 
value and how long it takes to earn and save, and how re- 
lentless with oneself one has to be, but he taught us a lot, 
too. We didn't say a word about taking or misusing knives. 
We meant to, but luckily, we forgot it in talking about 
the screen. When he brought up the matter himself, it did 
seem as if the long discipline of paying for the damage 
he'd done might be enough, and it really seems to have 
been. All those weeks since the beginning of summer 



when it happened, the knives no longer disappear, and 
there are no more mysterious nicks or cuts on window- 
sills, oilcloths or small boy. So we've apparently solved the 
knife problem. And the visit to Albany you took him on 
helped too, for all destructiveness stopped after that. You 
know how stubborn he is, and direct opposition or punish- 
ment only hardens him. This indirect way seems to ac- 
complish so much more and with so much less wear and 
tear on everyone concerned." 

"Even Katy is impressed," remarked the mother, "though 
first, when I forbade her to accuse him of cutting the 
screen, she clearly thought us softies, and when she real- 
ized he was not going to be punished according to her 
idea of punishment, she snorted. But afterwards she said, 
1 see you know your business after all, ma'am.' " 

There was another reason for the success of that kind of 
punishment. Jimmie himself had admitted its justice. Jim- 
mie had collaborated in carrying it out, by a voluntary 
enlargement of his father's plan. So, instead of feeling 
crushed or rebellious under disgrace, he had not only re- 
tained but increased his self-respect. He was like a grown-up 
business man. He kept accounts. He could show self- 
control. He could carry through a plan. He could pay. 


Norma was a charming, dignified child, of nearly seven. 
She was responsive, had a remarkable grace of carriage 


and movement, and she had, furthermore, an intelligence 
that soared high above the average run of children. Indeed, 
it soared above the average run of bright children. Norma 
was in the "genius class" and yet her brains did not pre- 
vent her from clinging to one of the weapons of baby- 
hood. When anything displeased her, when she was forced 
to eat anything except meat and chicken, and even when 
she had nothing interesting to do, she vomited. 

She held tightly to another infantile tyranny also. She 
required her mother to sit in the room with her or lie 
beside her until she fell asleep. 

Although she was not yet seven she had entered the 
third grade. This was not as high a grade as her mental 
development warranted, but her mother felt that to put 
her in a higher grade would have been unwise, since she 
would have as playmates children so much older and 
more mature than she. 

I agreed with this, although as I watched the child and 
listened to her during the tests, I found her amazingly 
mature in her thinking and in everything that had to do 
with words. Her vocabulary, as measured by the test, was 
almost that of an adult. She saw the point of the fables 
as well as the average sixteen-year-old. Although her actual 
number development was no further than third grade, or 
eight-years-old, she liked to think things through instead 
of jumping at conclusions. 

She was a sensitive child. Anything sad affected her. 
She always worried lest there be something sad in any 
book she was reading. When she heard that the parents of 


the children next door had died, she was much upset and 
clung more closely than ever to her mother. 

She was unusually generous with her toys and belong- 
ings. Her mother said that Norma had never been jealous 
of the baby sister, nearly two years old. The mother uncon- 
sciously contradicted herself as she talked about Norma 
and the baby, for she remarked that when she told Norma 
that a baby was coming and showed her the baby clothes, 
the child grabbed at them and tried to tear them up. After 
all, Norma had been the only child for five years. Since 
the baby came she seemed fond of her and most generous 
toward her. 

Norma's own remark to me, however, indicated that 
jealousy of the baby was there, in spite of all her devotion. 

"Letty has curls," she said wistfully. "It's much nicer 
to have curls than straight hair. Mine is straight and it 
isn't pretty." 

It was difficult to be with Mrs. Lessing more than a few 
moments and not wonder, "How could the child help 
having some nervous habits living with a mother like 

Mrs. Lessing had a goiter and she seemed to get satis- 
faction out of talking about it and other illnesses and 
troubles that seemed, in the light of the comfortable home 
situation she described, to be probably imaginary. Any 
child with a sensitive mind could hardly fail to absorb 
from her the idea that illnesses were important and that 
they could be used to get what one wanted. 

Financially Mrs. Lessing had few real anxieties. She had 


a comfortable home. Her husband was intelligent, con- 
siderate, and easy-going. She considered him over-indul- 
gent with both children, but he made more of a pet of the 
baby than he ever had of Norma. He insisted that his wife 
was over-indulgent too, and told her that that was why 
she allowed Norma's vomiting to continue. In this, of 
course, Mrs. Lessing felt he was utterly mistaken. 

She had held a responsible business position before her 
marriage, but never since had made any attempt to return 
to business life, although she liked to think she wanted to. 

"How could I," she exclaimed, "shot to pieces as I am? 
I've never gotten over the wretched, criminal neglect I 
suffered when I was at the sanatorium for Norma's birth. 
It's that that makes me so nervous about the children. 
You see, Norma began vomiting when she was five months 
old and has never stopped. She was healthy when she was 
born and it was not a difficult confinement. I nursed her 
for two months and then had to give her supplementary 
feedings. I have always blamed the nurse for my poor 
supply of milk. 

"The poor baby was only seven months old when she 
caught whooping-cough. She was talking at six months. 
I have always been so afraid that if I started making an 
issue of her vomiting she might get upset and not sleep 
and become ill. So I have to give her everything she wants 
to keep her from vomiting. Otherwise I'm pretty severe. 
I spank her if she is naughty. She gets saucy and if I spank 
her, she is good for several days. 

"She gave me a bad fright once, falling against a corner 


of the table and cutting a gash over her eye. She's had 
two operations, one for tonsils and adenoids and one for 
neck glands. The tonsil operation didn't do any good, 
though, for she often has nasal trouble now. She talks 
in her sleep too, and that always bothers me. She's dread- 
fully afraid of the dark and I always have to sit with her 
till she goes to sleep. 

"No, she hasn't many playmates. I don't approve of the 
children in the neighborhood — so rough and ill-mannered. 
They run right over Norma, too. She is shy and gives in 
to them. She can play with her little sister, I always say. 
The baby is so active I have to watch her every minute 
to keep her from climbing and handling things. It's just 
'don't' with me from morning till night with that 

"School? Norma started kindergarten when she was 
four and went two weeks but she vomited every afternoon 
after she got home, so I took her out. I let her start first 
grade the next year. They took her though she was only 
Eve. The teacher was fond of her and she seemed happy. 
No, she didn't vomit at school ; at least, not at that school. 
We moved that summer and she vomited every morning 
before she started for school but she only began it at 
school when she was saucy one day and the teacher slapped 
her. After that she vomited before starting every day, and 
at school and again every afternoon when she got home. 
She's always vomited at home whenever anything comes 
up that she doesn't want to do." 


"Does she vomit in front of people, or wherever she 
happens to be?" I asked. 

"No, she's proud, and sensitive about having anyone 
see her. She says she feels she is going to and clutches 
her mouth and turns her back or runs into another room. 

"What does she like to do ? She'd rather read than any- 
thing else. She hates to walk or play running games, or 
do the exercises they have in school. I've been astonished 
at the way she's taken to you, she is so dreadfully afraid 
of doctors and nurses. But of course you're not that kind 
of a doctor. I told her so before I brought her." 

After the mother had finished her story, came the task 
of trying to shift her point of view. What she had been 
saying, in effect, was, "You see what a careful, splendid 
mother I am. You'll understand and help me to make my 
husband see how cruel it would be to that poor child to 
upset her about her vomiting, and show him that I'm 
doing all that any human being could. You'll make him 
understand that he must admire and uphold me, instead 
of criticizing me and saying it's all my fault that the 
child vomits and needs me at night." My job was to try 
to help her get past this way of thinking to a realization of 
the probable causes of the vomiting and why the child 
had continued it. 

First I explained to her that vomiting in a child is not 
necessarily caused by a weak stomach. Some children use 
it as a trick to frighten those around them into giving 
them what they want. They have discovered, somehow, 


how to press the button, as it were. When there is no 
spoiled stomach, there is no unpleasant taste, so there is 
nothing disagreeable to the child in the action. All infants 
throw up undigested milk in this easy way. 

In Norma's case there had been a physical cause to start 
in with. It had been hard to find food to agree with her 
as an infant, and I reminded Mrs. Lessing that she had 
said the vomiting had started at five months. Not long 
after, at seven months, Norma had whooping-cough, 
which often causes vomiting. Its long course, coupled with 
the alarmed attention of the mother, probably fixed the 
habit until it had become automatic and painless. The 
child was old enough to appreciate the alarmed attention, 
for she had already begun to talk a month before. 

Next I showed the mother, again from her own story, 
how successfully Norma employed her trick to get and 
keep attention and to avoid growing up. She kept her 
mother with her when she slept; her mother had to urge 
her to eat and must cater to her narrow tastes in foods, 
and she was afraid she would lose her mother as the little 
neighbors had, and so threatened vomiting if her mother 
would get out of her sight. 

Instead of losing the baby-trick as she grew older, she 
used it to meet a series of disagreeable situations. The 
first was when she went to kindergarten and found herself 
lost in the crowd of other children. Her little sister was 
not yet born, and she did not know what it was to share 
attention. After two weeks of vomiting, teacher and mother 
gave in and she stayed at home for the rest of the year. 


The next year was a happy one at school with a teacher 
who made much of her as the youngest and brightest. She 
did not need to vomit at school. But the following year 
when she faced a teacher who dared to disapprove of her, 
the habit returned with redoubled violence. 

At home, meanwhile, a new baby had arrived. Her 
parents' attention had not only to be shared, but actually 
given up in large part. Her father played much more 
with the baby than he ever had with her. Her mother 
seemed to have no time for her. Even though she did love 
her baby sister, she believed that she was forgotten in the 
new order of things. Such a belief usually makes one feel 
queer inside, with a heavy or dropping feeling around 
one's stomach. Any kind of upset affects appetite and 
digestion, so it was natural that Norma, with her habit 
ready to hand, should vomit at home more and more. 

This was really a secret language. It meant that under- 
neath her devotion to the baby lurked a hidden jealousy. 
I convinced the mother of this by quoting Norma's re- 
mark about the curls and straight hair, and also by recall- 
ing to the mother the incident she had told me of Norma's 
reaction to the baby-clothes. 

Then I told Mrs. Lessing stories of other children whose 
mothers had cured them by paying no attention to their 
threats of vomiting, or to the vomiting itself, except to tell 
them hard-heartedly to clean up the mess. I suggested she 
do the same, note Norma's response, and tell me about it 
at the next visit. 

Norma herself was so intelligent and responsive that 


matters were explained to her in much the same way. I 
planned to explain to her, besides, how she was using 
vomiting to avoid taking responsibility and growing up. 
I wanted, too, to help her out of her unhappiness of be- 
lieving that she was nothing in her parents' eyes, compared 
to the baby, as she had clearly shown me she felt. But 
both these subjects must wait until the next visit. This 
time it was enough for her to lay stress upon the fact that 
the weapons she thought most effective in making people 
pay attention to her, were baby tricks that babies outgrow 
unless they had some special reason for wanting to stay 

That interested her and she wondered why anyone 
should want to remain a baby. She agreed that the an- 
swer given was probably right, though insisting, 

"But I'm not vomiting to get my own way. I take after 
one of my cousins. He's always vomited and he can't help 
it, so of course I can't either." 

The child was offering a new alibi. Her mother had 
already told me that Norma did not like people to see 
her vomiting. Here was another way of convincing herself 
and her mother that she could not help herself. 

"Perhaps you can help it more than you think," I said 
to her. "It all began so far back, when you were the 
tiniest baby. All babies spit up the milk they don't digest. 
When you did that, it must have alarmed your mother, 
as you were her first baby and she was extra careful of 
you. So she let you do anything you wanted, and though 
you cannot remember it, the impression was made on your 


brain that the way to get what you want is to vomit. 
Brains never forget anything, once the impression of it 
is there. Do you know what a habit is? Something that 
you have done so often that you do it without thinking 
about it. You got into the habit of vomiting. Anyone can 
break habits too. You have to think about them and want 
to stop them or change them and if you want to hard 
enough, you succeed." 

"But sometimes it is nice to be a baby," objected Norma. 
"They play with you so much more. Don't you ever want 
to be a baby instead of big?" 

"Yes. I feel lazy sometimes and wish I could keep on 
reading or sleeping or whatever it is, and not do the 
grown-up job that is waiting for me, but then I think how 
much more I can do, now that I am big, how much more 
I can do for myself and for other people, and how good 
it makes me feel to do things all by myself. By that time 
I'm always sure that I wouldn't go back and be a baby 
again for anything." 

Norma looked doubtful. 

"Think about it sometimes," I went on, "and come back 
next week and tell me how it seems to you then." 

Norma had dropped one remark which, slight as it was, 
I had tucked away for future use. "I throw up when 
there's nothing interesting to do," she had said. I had 
never heard a child say just that before. It fitted into the 
picture of her mature mind and her baby emotions. 

The regular school curriculum, geared to the average 
child, is hard on both the slow child and the quick. Even 


third grade must have been so easy for Norma that most 
of it would seem dull. Also she would get through all her 
work so quickly that over and over, all through the day, 
she would have to sit waiting with nothing to do. This 
daily check to an eager young mind must at times seem 
intolerable. It would be disgusting. One can imagine the 
child saying, "I'm sick of it!" and feeling sick so de- 
cidedly that it would not be strange, with her history of 
inability to keep down food, for her to feel physical 

When a child gets bored, all sorts of mischief may re- 
sult. When a child's abilities are never challenged by 
something that takes real effort to accomplish, he is apt to 
fall into slovenly habits of working and thinking. It is 
easy to be spoiled when one is the youngest and the bright- 
est in the class, and that makes it harder to realize the 
needs and rights of others. When an important problem 
in life presents itself the bored child may resent it because 
it demands effort and time. 

There could be no question of putting Norma three 
grades ahead where intellectually she belonged. At her 
age, not yet seven, she was neither physically nor socially 
ready to be thrown with sixth grade children of eleven 
or twelve. 

Still the solution for Norma would be to place her 
where work would be challenging. The first step would 
be to talk things over with the principal and teachers and 
find out whether they thought it advisable to let her skip 
one more half -grade. It had seemed to me that she was in 


every way the equal of average eight-and-a-half-year-olds. 
If they did not want to skip her, they might have some 
suggestion of giving her extra books to read or work to 
do when she finished ahead of the others. 

There are public schools here and there which offer an 
enriched curriculum. Some of these, too, have taken over 
from the experimental progressive private schools the idea 
of the fluid group, formed by children interested in the 
same phase of a subject. Experience has proved that this, 
far from adding to the burden of the teacher, saves her 

If there is no such public school available, Norma might 
do better in one of these experimental private schools. 
Progress fitted to the needs of the individual child is the 
solution for unusual children of every type. 

Norma presents the problem of the brilliant child. She 
shows, to begin with, that brilliance has its own problems 
and penalties, and besides is not exempt from the emo- 
tional problems of any other child. Compare her for in- 
stance with Elizabeth. Like Elizabeth, Norma had to 
endure displacement by a younger child, armed only with 
a method of meeting obstacles that was wrong and long- 
fixed. Like Elizabeth, Norma applied the same faulty 
technique to her other problems, particularly to those of 
school, though the school problem of genius-Norma was 
different from the school problem of merely intelligent 

Norma felt herself helpless against her vomiting as 
Elizabeth did against her tantrums. Yet Norma's symp- 


torn had more of the character of an alibi than of a re- 
bellion. Where Dicky and John, two small vomiters whose 
stories are told later, used their weapon as threatening or 
punishing of people who did not obey them, Norma was 
unconscious of the fact that she was using hers as an 

Because of this unconsciousness she was more of a vic- 
tim of her own method than were Dicky and John, and 
with her mother's example and her mother's anxiety she 
was farther than they along the road toward self-made 

I had made an appointment for mother and daughter 
to come again the following week. They did not keep the 
appointment or send any word. I found that the family 
had suddenly moved to another town and no letters for- 
warded to Mrs. Lessing ever received answers. It was 
likely that the family moved for business reasons. It is far- 
fetched to believe that Norma's mother had moved to get 
away from that second visit. But . . . one wonders. 

It was a great disappointment to us. Norma would have 
been a delight to work with. And it was a disappointment 
to leave undone so much that was needed. 

If the mother gets no further aid than the preliminary 
hint given her on her first and only visit, there is small 
hope of her helping the child. It is doubtful that what 
had been said to Mrs. Lessing was enough. It takes a strong 
person to face himself so quickly and she had weakened 
herself by years of self -induced invalidism. That is why I 
had gone no further with her than to show how Norma's 


brand of behavior had started and to suggest to her one 
technique: no attention to the vomiting itself. For her to 
admit that she had not been the self-sacrificing, perfect 
mother she liked to picture herself, would probably be 
too damaging to her self-esteem. It would take long prepa- 
ration and gradually broadening insight for her to come 
to this admission, where a more courageous woman would 
have needed a much shorter time. 

So if attractive Norma, with all her assets and possibili- 
ties, is to escape her mother's fate, it must be through 
herself. And that is not impossible. Her superior intelli- 
gence may create some emotional problems, but it is, of 
course, a tremendous asset. While intelligence alone can 
not solve emotional problems, which go so much further 
into the very depths of human beings, I have known a 
number of keenly intelligent children who have solved 
their own problems with no help from their parents. 
Norma may be one of the children who can do this. It 
seems probable, for she has not only her brilliant mind, 
with its ability to think things through, but she has gen- 
erosity and ability to put herself into the place of others. 
Norma may be able to use the key to understanding her 
own behavior now, in the present, or she may forget all 
about it and have to learn it anew some day. Or perhaps 
it may pop into her mind at a critical moment and help 
her over a difficult place. 


In the Grip of the Ancestors 


Dryce and Winship Alden were two of the fortunate chil- 
dren of this world, as judged by the three standards of 
fine old American family, education and wealth. They 
were handsome, keenly intelligent, with wide and eager 

i6 4 


interests. Their mother was known throughout the com- 
munity as wise and kind, public-spirited and uncompro- 
misingly upright. Especially was she admired for the calm 
that seemed to cover reserves of strength and for the 
beautifully modulated voice that drew people to her. 
Lucky children! Yet their mother was asking for help. 

I had known Hester Alden, her husband and her sons 
for some time, and I was not astonished when she came 
to me in distress. Win, the younger boy, a little past five, 
was wounding her in her most fundamental trait, that 
uncompromising uprightness of hers. 

Wiry little Win, freckled to match his curly red hair, 
and with his friendly, elfin grin, had been caught in 
underhandedness, in what to her meant nothing less than 
dishonesty. She had other worries about him too, but part 
of these, she said, were purely medical; his susceptibility 
to colds, his nervousness, shown in twitching and in grind- 
ing his teeth in sleep and the hyperactivity that was always 
getting him into hot water with the neighbors. The boy's 
father was annoyed by his uncouthness of manner and 
his loud voice. But this, she was sure, would naturally 
right itself as the child grew older and more reasonable. 
"And he was such a placid baby," she ended. "I cannot 
understand it!" 

"And how about Bryce?" I asked. 

"Oh, Bryce always seems able to take care of himself," 
she answered. 

I agreed with her. I had seen Bryce in action. He was a 
tall, handsome boy of seven, but his blue eyes were cold. 


And his voice — I remembered my first visit to the home, 
when the two boys came bursting into the quiet library 
where we sat before the fire, yelling, Bryce in a harsh 
and strangely mature bellow, Win in equally harsh but 
piercing shrieks. Soon I realized that these were their 
everyday voices, in startling contrast to the rich and quiet 
voice of their mother. 

The children on the block were a lively crew, I knew, 
but these tones were different from the ordinary shout- 
ing of children. The boys' school was a well-run progres- 
sive private school in the neighborhood. They would not 
be likely to learn such tones there. 

Shortly afterward their father had come in. Then I 
began to understand. Robert Alden was lean and wiry, 
with a boyish and interesting face, much like his younger 
son's. I should have thought him extremely attractive had 
it not been for a querulous droop to his mouth and for his 
voice, a still harsher version of the boys'. 

Then one day Bryce pouted out his chest and ordered 
everybody about, forcing his voice into a still more raucous 
bellow. Hester, laughing in spite of herself, admitted that 
his portrait of Grandmother Alden was devastatingly 

This harsh bellow of the three generations was much 
more likely to be imitated than inherited, for indeed it was 
not a natural voice at all, but in all three cases betrayed 
strain and belligerence, so I took note that this family 
voice might be a clue to the family situation. 


When Hester began consulting me it was her anxiety 
about Win which pressed her. I could not help seeing that 
she was fonder of him than of his older brother. Indeed he 
was more likable. And his troubles were more easily 
seen. But I felt sure that we could not understand one boy 
without understanding the other, and that the physical 
over-activity and the strained voices, common to other- 
wise very different children, must have some common 
origin. Bryce, I knew from my casual acquaintance with 
him, needed special attention, although I had gathered 
that he got on better with his father than did Win. 

It was true, Hester admitted, that Bryce's manners em- 
barrassed her painfully. He had once greeted one of her 
guests with, "Hullo, you damn old skunk!" But she felt 
that a breach of manners would right itself later, and in 
any case was much less serious than a breach of morals. 
Bryce did not get into trouble at home and at school as 
Win did. 

I had an early opportunity to let her see how Bryce took 
care of himself. She and I were talking in the living room 
with the boys playing in the library beyond. An urgent 
tone in Bryce's voice caught my attention, — something 
like a sharp command. Then there was a thud. We leaned 
forward so that we could see. Before the fireplace stooped 
Win, struggling to pull out a blazing log, scattering ashes 
on the rug and almost burning his hands. 

"Win, drop that log! Where is your mind! Don't you 
know you are forbidden to play with fire?" exclaimed his 


mother. "It's too dangerous for small boys. Now you'll 
have to go sit in your room for half an hour to teach your 
mind to help you keep out of mischief." 

Win burst out sobbing and buried his head in the sofa. 
I was watching Bryce, who stood out of his mother's 
sight, but full in mine. He was grinning complacently. 
Quietly I drew Hester's attention to him. 

"Why, he's actually enjoying it!" she whispered back. 

"Why don't you go into this a little further?" I went 
on in a low voice. "I wasn't paying much attention to the 
children but I remember hearing Bryce order Win to do 
something just before this happened. I've caught glimpses 
like it before — Bryce getting Win into trouble and then 
standing back to enjoy seeing him punished." 

"But Bryce has never lied to me." 

"He hasn't had to lie. He just hasn't come forward to 
say that it was his suggestion and Win is too loyal to give 
him away." 

Hester went into the library and stooped over Win. 

"Why didn't you tell Bryce you knew I didn't want 
you to play with fire?" 

" 'Cause he wanted that funny log," Win answered, not 
realizing how much he was admitting of Bryce's tactics 
and of his relation to his brother. 

Then Hester turned to Bryce. Cornered, he did not try 
to lie his way out. A direct lie was not his method. Later 
Hester talked with the teachers at school. They had noticed 
the same tendency. Bryce was seldom caught in mischief, 
but when other children were caught they always in- 


sisted that Bryce had done the planning and he seldom 
denied it. His brother would never tell on him. But Bryce 
would virtuously tell on Win. 

When Hester realized that Win's lies were always told 
either in self-defense or, less frequently, to express his 
vivid fancies, but never maliciously, to get someone else 
into trouble, while Bryce's dishonesty was cruel and cal- 
culating and often directed against Win, she was willing 
to believe that Bryce also needed help. 

I suggested that we follow the clue of the harsh voices. 
This unlocked Hester's reticence concerning her husband 
and his mother. She described a complicated struggle of 
wills of which the two boys were the center and cause, and 
in which she fought against their spoiled-child father and 
tyrannical grandmother who was actually trying to get 
her sons away from her. 

As the struggle was coming rapidly to a dramatic cli- 
max, I suggested that Hester consult the local Guidance 
Clinic, with which I was connected, in order to have the 
advice and moral support of its psychiatrist, Dr. Martin. In 
the meantime Hester and I had been working on better 
ways of handling the children. 

We found that we could not go far in understanding the 
situation among these living members of the family with- 
out involving the members long dead, who looked down 
from the family portraits on the wall. For those dead 
people were stretching their hands down into the destinies 
of the living. 

We went so far as to make a diagram of the last five 


generations in what we called the family character-tree. 
It spread out an interlacing pattern. But it was not a 
happy one. It was clear that the most respectable ances- 
tors may not be altogether an asset. Little Bryce and Win, 
bucking the lot of them, living and dead, were certainly 
at a disadvantage. 

There had been mistakes in the training of the two 
children. That was certain. But Hester and I were also 
able to see that the way, for instance, that an embittered 
great-grandmother brings up her own child and her con- 
tinuing influence may do much to mold the lives of the 
great-grandchildren she does not live to influence directly. 

For convenience we may begin the story of Bryce and 
Winship at the point where their great-grandfather Alden, 
still fairly young, was celebrating his financial inheritance 
from his successful ancestors by retiring. He had grown 
up on his grandfather's farm and he bought a large estate 
near a city where he could live the life of a country gentle- 
man. Two things are outstanding in his story. He was 
completely absorbed in his outdoor interests, his pure- 
blooded animals and his famous garden. And he was a 
domestic tyrant. 

All the energies which his forebears had turned upon 
the outside world in exacting and maintaining a fortune, 
now turned in upon the small world in which he ruled, 
expecting his wife to be as docile as the dogs and at the 
service of all the barnyard sick. 

One thing is certain about the young wife, orphaned 
from early childhood. She hated animals. She hated house- 





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keeping. And she hated the country. Yet these three were 
now her life. She was enough of her period, however, to 
act the part of a submissive and dutiful helpmeet. What- 
ever her hidden desires may have been, all that appeared 
on the surface were an air of secrecy and a passion for 
fine embroidery for which she had scant leisure. 

The hatred of housekeeping took a curious turn. She 
insisted on doing it all alone. And on doing it to per- 
fection. With a large house to maintain and with more 
than ample means, she refused to have a single servant. 
No one knew whether this parsimony was a way of in- 
directly reproaching her husband or a disciplining of 
herself because she felt guilty about her hatred of house- 
keeping. She had no friends and never wanted company. 

Perhaps it was a kind of revenge. Certainly the pre- 
cision of that house to which his wife was always sacri- 
ficing herself did nothing to draw her husband indoors, 
away from the undemanding companionship of his flowers 
and his horses. 

They had one child, a son, James. The mother would 
have liked more children but the father thought one 
enough of a care. The child grew up equally lonely in his 
busy mother's house and in his pre-occupied father's barn- 
yard. But the boy took a fancy to the fields and the 
garden. The mother was as dutiful to him as to her furni- 
ture and the father saw to it that proper education was 
provided. But what the child longed for was affection. 

He never got over his resentment at the lack of it. 
When his mother learned this years later, she was sure 


that he was mistaken and that she had given him all that 
any mother could give. 

This gentle and sensitive boy, growing up into a bril- 
liant young graduate student in science, fell violently in 
love with a girl in almost every respect his mother's 

She was a young music student named Juliana. But 
music was not a key to her character. She shared his 
passion for the outdoors and the excursions which he 
had always before taken alone. 

After a few Sunday tramps and without waiting for his 
degree, he married and established the first real home he 
had ever known on the eight hundred dollars a year of his 
college allowance. This piece of imprudence won him the 
violent disapproval of Juliana's parents and of his own. 

No one came near them for two months. Then Mr. 
Alden paid them his first visit. He came alone, and found 
them at work in the tiny garden of their tiny apartment. 
They took him inside and showed him the books they 
were reading together. He looked around at the friend- 
liness of the simply furnished room, and became wistful 
as James had never seen him. His own home had never 
been like that. He had missed all companionship with his 

A week after this visit he died suddenly, leaving his 
entire property to his wife. 

James' mother was now free to live the life she wanted. 
She showed unexpected independence and resourceful- 
ness. She promptly sold the estate, moved into the city, 


took an apartment in a new building and bought every 
modern convenience then available for housekeeping. 
And, now that she was a wealthy woman in her own 
right, she continued to do her own housework, even her 
washing. One morning she was run down by an auto- 
mobile, but picked herself up, went home and did her 
housekeeping for several days with a broken rib. Finally 
she allowed herself to be bandaged, but refused all other 
help. Whatever motives she once may have had, parsi- 
mony now became the ruling passion of her life. To it she 
added hatred of her daughter-in-law. 

What kind of wife had this brilliant and lonely son of 
hers taken? 

James' wife was as fond of outdoor life as his mother 
had been afraid of it. He loved her for that. She cared 
as little for housekeeping as his mother did, but, unlike 
his mother, her distaste for it made her take it easily. 
Besides, she adored the importance of having her own 
home. Moreover, she had taste. This sense of ease in his 
home must have been a delight to young James. Then she 
was as determined as his mother had been negative. She 
seemed to James to hold out the hope that with her he 
would enjoy the companionship he had missed with his 
father, and the affection he had vainly looked for from 
his mother. Unconsciously he must have felt that he was 
getting in Juliana the mother he had always longed for. 
No wonder his own mother disliked this vigorous and at- 
tractive young woman. Aside from her jealousy, however, 


Mrs. Alden had some justification for her distrust of her 
son's wife. 

The fact is, Juliana had learned her decided manner 
from a lifetime of having her own way. She was the 
spoiled favorite child of a self-willed father. Her grand- 
father, of Revolutionary stock, had gone as a pioneer to 
the west and had become a power in his part of the 
country. Her father had developed that power and along 
with it had put on the manners of a dictator. He married 
a quiet little wife, begot nine children and for some rea- 
son, perhaps because she was never afraid of him, had 
picked out Juliana, the middle child, as a companion. He 
was as indulgent to her as he was tyrannical to his other 
children, his wife and the world. This gave Juliana a 
chance to dominate her mother and sisters. She ducked 
out of all duties at home. Her father took her with him 
on his business trips or when he was camping in the 
mountains, looking after his cattle. He called her his 
right-hand man. 

Soon after her father had indulged her in her whim 
to go east to study music, she met young Jim Alden and 
forgot her purpose. His very difference from her father 
must have attracted her, the gentleness of his devotion. If 
she understood that it grew out of his need for her care 
and affection she sometimes seemed to forget this as 
marriage brought her troubles of her own. Nevertheless 
she did take care of him in her own passionate, possessive 


She nearly died when her first child, Robert, was born. 
She was in bed for six months after his birth. The baby, 
too, barely survived. Then a second baby had to be sacri- 
ficed to save her. This was a real grief and shock. Of 
course James did everything he could to comfort her dur- 
ing this period of suffering. The result was that both of 
them became used to her having her way in everything. 
At first he gave in because he was afraid of making her 
unhappy. After a while he gave in because he was afraid 
of her. 

James, put to it to provide for his wife and son, for his 
mother did not offer to share with him, had gone into a 
manufacturing business where his scientific bent and his 
gift for invention could be turned to practical account. It 
was a time of expanding industry when he could expect 
large rewards for his services, but it turned out to be a 
slow up-hill climb for many years. What devotion his wife 
could spare from herself she now gave to spoiling the frail 
little son in the hope of binding him to her. 

It is true that Juliana and James did sensible things for 
Robert's health. They took him with them to the moun- 
tains where he climbed everywhere with them. They were 
among the first parents to send their boy to a summer 
camp. But it did not occur to Juliana that her habit of 
rewarding his lack of self-control by giving him what he 
demanded in his tantrums might have any effect on his 
health or character. 

He was a bright child and he had plenty of chance to 
watch her getting what she wanted from his father. And 


he did not fail to see that she had begun to despise his 
father for his very gentleness with her. 

When he was twelve Robert had an attack of St. Vitus' 
Dance. To his mother this was a sign that he needed more 
physical pampering from her. She believed that he could 
not go to sleep without her arms around him. She boasted 
about this in later years to Hester. She was totally un- 
aware that these tactics, instead of binding him to her, 
made him long to escape. 

His grandmother Alden had early taught Robert the 
value of money, particularly its relation to independence. 
At a time when James and Juliana were having a hard 
financial struggle, she kept every cent of her husband's 
money and held on to it as long as she lived. Perhaps it 
helped her to live long. Occasionally she did give a gift, 
and then it was always a generous one. She took joy in 
her grandson even though she was disagreeable to his 
mother. Robert was very fond of her and was always ready 
to run her errands and stay to supper. These errands were 
lessons in finance. The point of view and the values 
Robert absorbed from his grandmother undoubtedly in- 
fluenced his whole development. 

He got his first taste of independence when his knowl- 
edge of trees, flowers and rocks earned him a counselor- 
ship at camp. He also earned whatever he could all 
through college, eager for the day when he could start 
out for himself. 

While he was in college his father, who had risen to be 
manager of his company, made an important invention. 


Money began to roll in. But Robert refused help and 
started out in business for himself. 

He was exactly what his mother had made him, a de- 
manding, unreasonable, uncontrolled child who had never 
grown up. In fact, he was startingly like herself. If she 
had set out to create a being to thwart her she could not 
have done better. Indeed, he took pleasure in seeing her 

What kind of wife would this spoiled child get? If he 
followed the example of his mother and his two grand- 
fathers, he would choose a mate who would give him his 
own way. Yet even such a wife would not satisfy him. He 
would expect her to be both playmate and the all-for- 
giving, all-providing mother of every unsatisfied baby's 

He got — Hester! Hester who demanded maturity and 
responsibility in others as fully as she expected it of her- 

Hester's forebears can explain some of the reasons why 
Hester failed to establish the kind of home she wanted. 

Her great-grandfather was a well-known Congrega- 
tional minister at a time when the tradition of the Puritan 
divine made him a figure of power. The daughter who be- 
came Hester's grandmother was known all her life as a 
delightful person, full of good sense and affection and 
with ideas that were far in advance of her day. She mar- 
ried the son of another good old Puritan family and when 
the eldest of her three little daughters was only four, her 
husband deserted her. 


This is about all the family remembers of him, doubt- 
less because he could be associated in their minds only 
with pain and disgrace. One can make many wild guesses 
about his bringing up and the effect on him of his wife's 
natural goodness and the public goodness of his father-in- 
law. Whatever drove him must have driven him hard. 
He was never heard from again. 

The minister-father and all the family rallied about the 
deserted wife and the three little girls and kept them from 
feeling want. But they all took a hand in the upbringing. 
It was not an ideal way to bring up children even in the 
best of families and with the wisest of mothers. 

Cynthia was the pretty one of the three. She was spoiled 
by the relatives on all hands, and grew up in the belief 
they inculcated that she was to retrieve the family fortunes 
by making a brilliant marriage. She was so courted that 
no one outside her mother and sisters knew anything about 
the real Cynthia. It is always easy to be charming when 
everything goes your way. 

It was not until after her marriage that glimpses of 
the real Cynthia appeared. She married George Winship, 
a brilliant young chemist. The first year of marriage she 
spent in bed with a heart attack, and was told that she 
could bear children only at the risk of death or of life-long 

At the end of the year she got up with the grim deter- 
mination to have a child. She was not invalided and at 
six-year intervals she had two more. But all joy had left 
her. She emerged from her bed a sour Puritan. 


This seemed a dramatic change of character to those 
who had known her as a gay and courted belle. Her 
beauty had blinded her friends to her rigid mind and her 
insistence upon detail. It is possible that she had been 
training for this kind of character during her entire child- 
hood, a childhood shadowed by the fact that her father 
had hurt her mother and had disgraced the children. But 
even her mother who knew her intolerance at home was 
astounded to see her turn suddenly into this grey, joyless 

Why did Cynthia go to bed in the first place ? And why 
did she get up again ? 

Hester and I could only guess as we pieced bits of the 
story together. 

With her mother's broken marriage before her eyes 
since babyhood, Cynthia might well have feared marriage 
for herself, at the same time that she realized that it was 
inevitable as a family duty. Duty was something she could 
never refuse. But when she found herself face to face 
with it, she broke, and in her dread, took to her bed. 
There her husband could make no demands of her. That 
whole first year seemed a protest, unconscious, no doubt, 
against marriage, its demands and its responsibilities, for 
hitherto she had never known responsibility, nor had to 
consider anyone except herself. 

But her husband was devoted to her. And she had a 
New England conscience. There lay the explanation of 
her getting up. Furthermore, her martyr attitude from 
that day on kept reminding him that she was bearing his 


children at the risk of her life, with the implication that 
he was inconsiderate and she a saint. 

This need of showing herself superior to him was due, 
also, Hester believed, to the fact that her mother never 
felt herself intellectually her husband's equal and to an 
idea that preyed upon her that she was hampering him 
in his opportunities. Still, she never interested herself in 
his work, nor made it comfortable for him to have friends 
come to their home. It was true that she lived in fear, for 
there was always danger of an explosion at the factory, 
and once it actually occurred. During the hour before 
news came she was sure her husband had been killed. 

George Winship came more and more to wrap himself 
up in his chemical experiments and in his business. For, 
like his contemporary, James Alden, Hester's father allied 
his science to business, though he seems to have prospered 
from the start. His devotion to his wife, so far as the chil- 
dren could see, never lessened. If there were ever any 
disagreement between the parents it must have been be- 
hind closed doors. 

Mr. Winship was an impatient, high-strung man, with 
many mannerisms. He would swear freely when a door 
did not swing easily on its hinges. He was shy in his home 
and rather afraid of babies. When the children were old 
enough to appreciate them, he took some pleasure in 
showing them chemical tricks, but otherwise they hardly 
knew him. 

He died while Hester was still at college. She thinks 
Win is very like him, only more sociable. 


It was a cheerless home over which the martyred and 
still beautiful Cynthia reigned. The Puritan ideals which 
in her grandfather had meant pastoral service and in her 
mother personal service and warmth, in prim Cynthia 
turned to that sour and negative Puritanism which finds 
its virtue in keeping others from sin, or in punishing them 
when they did sin. 

Everything happy and natural was sin to her. It is sig- 
nificant that she was for a time interested in a religious 
organization for young women, but when her pride was 
hurt at some incident which she would never explain, she 
resigned and never had any other interest outside her 
home where her opinionated and narrow ideas were not 
openly disputed. Her mother and her husband became ill 
at this time and gave her an excuse not to leave home. 

She never spared herself, kept her household in a state 
of rigid perfection and took her children in the same 
spirit. She always wore the air of a martyr. She saw every- 
thing in black and white, with no possible shades of grey 
in between. She judged even her babies by this standard 
and was determined to have good babies according to that 
standard. It was fortunate for her children that her whole- 
some, modern-thinking mother came to live with her and 
took over the care of the children, showing them far more 
affection than Cynthia did. 

Hester had a lonely childhood. She was the middle 
child with a sister six years older and a brother six years 
younger, so there was little companionship possible. She 
rarely saw her father, as he came in so late from work. So 


Hester sought friends outside. She had two chums, but she 
always played with them separately. She developed con- 
siderable leadership and ingenuity in inventing games, 
but she recalled that the mothers of her two little friends 
never were pleased to see her coming to play, for there 
seemed to be something about her that excited children, 
and the mothers complained that after her visits their 
children were always unmanageable. This was in strong 
contrast to Hester's later reputation for extreme outward 

The keynote to her character, and therefore the keynote 
to her training of her own children, was rebellion against 
her mother. Never in any way would she be like her 
mother, she vowed. So, where her mother had narrowed 
her interests to her home, Hester continually widened hers 
and became a power in community welfare. Where her 
mother was always irrationally dogmatic, certain of abso- 
lute right and absolute wrong, Hester always tried to get 
the opinion of several people before making up her own 
mind, and checked facts carefully. She felt that she did 
not take anyone's personal opinion but that the contact 
sharpened her vision. Her mother was impatient with 

"My dear girl, use your own mind. I could tell you what 
to do without asking anyone!" which was just the trouble 
in Hester's eyes. It became a habit with Hester, in her pas- 
sion to be scientific, to seek broader and broader bases for 
her opinions. In this she was no doubt influenced by her 
father whom she admired though he remained shadowy. 


While her mother lived indoors, Hester became skilful 
at athletics. While her mother was a hundred years be- 
hind the present, Hester was progressive and modern. 
While her mother was frigid to everyone, Hester was an 
unusually warm and friendly person. But Hester's strongest 
rebellion was against her mother's repression. She would 
never be cold to her husband or repressive to her children! 

She looked forward to her own marriage eagerly as a 
chance to get and to give the happiness she had never 

And she married Robert! Ironically enough, she had 
been attracted to him first when she met him playing 
charmingly with a friend's babies. She did not know that 
to be an irresponsible child among children was quite an- 
other thing than being a good father. Meanwhile she at- 
tracted him by her own jolly joining in the children's 
games. Yet her strongest conviction and her deepest long- 
ing to give happiness were to lead her to continuing the 
spoiling his own mother had started and to spoil her own 
children as well. 

Both being lonely and rebellious, they married in haste 
without letting anyone know until afterward. Housekeep- 
ing was not easy at first because Hester's mother, doing 
everything so perfectly herself, could never bear to see 
her children do anything imperfectly. Consequently her 
daughters had to learn the housekeeping arts by experi- 
ence after marriage. 

Hester's first baby came early. Robert was away on busi- 
ness a great deal during his infancy. He was working very 


hard and Hester was deeply in love. So his brief week- 
ends at home became a festival. Hester spared him every- 
thing and kept the baby out of his way lest he be annoyed 
if the child cried. So he got into the way of feeling that 
he came before the baby. 

Robert was proud of his little son and did try at first to 
help take care of him. But Hester would not allow him to, 
partly to spare him trouble, but chiefly for the sake of the 
baby. She was carrying out to the letter the directions of a 
fussy baby-specialist, and she was fearful that the clumsy 
young father would do something wrong. Afterward she 
realized that she had made a big mistake. 

For Robert too was in love. Then, if ever, she could have 
influenced him into more social ways of thinking. When 
she remembered that she had discouraged each effort he 
had made to help her with the baby, she blamed herself 
for his utter irresponsibility toward the children later on. 

Yet Robert, like his own grandfather, thought that one 
child was such a nuisance that he was determined not to 
have another. When little Win came two years later Rob- 
ert resented him and never forgave him for being born, 
although Win looked like him from the start. Robert's 
desire to avoid a third child now became such a preoccu- 
pation in his relations with Hester that they were both 
under constant strain. 

The chief nuisance of the babies to him at that time was 
that they took Hester's time away from him. He became 
jealous of everything that Hester did for them. And he 
must have resented their expense for he was showing him- 


self stingy. He and Hester had started out on a partner- 
ship basis, he to be the landlord and keep up the house, 
she to run it. But Robert did not keep to his agreement. 
He began expecting Hester to pay the repairs out of her 
allowance and he interfered in her management of the 
house, even to poking into the pantry and rebuking the 
maid. This parsimony Hester thought might have been 
taught him by his grandmother who did not die until the 
year of Win's birth and to the last had a strong influence 
on Robert. 

Of course he would not have learned this unless it had 
fitted his general tendency. The story of the Aldens and 
the Winships shows as much rebellion against as imitation 
of the forerunners. But Robert showed even the same kind 
of stinginess as his grandmother. He had always plenty of 
money to spend on a new gun or fishing-rod, as she for 
her hobby, household gadgets. 

It is an ironic touch that this old grandmother, un- 
daunted by the fact that she had done almost nothing for 
her only child, always regretted that she had not had more 
children, took tremendous pride in her great-grandson 
Bryce and urged Hester, to whom she took a great liking, 
to have many children. Hester enjoyed the eccentric and 
independent old lady who did her own washing and con- 
tinued making her fine embroidery to the end, and, dying, 
would not trust her money to her favorite Robert, but tied 
it up for the future of the great-grandchildren. "A vivid 
personality as I knew her," Hester said, "yet her son re- 
members her only as passive and drab." Perhaps the friend- 


ship of these two Alden wives of the first and third gener- 
ations was based on their defensive alliance against Juliana, 
of the generation in between. 

Juliana had once vowed that she would never treat her 
daughter-in-law as she had been treated by her mother-in- 
law. Nevertheless, when the time came, her feeling for 
Robert's wife was still more bitter than that from which 
she had suffered. And as she was a far more aggressive 
person than her own mother-in-law, she made life ex- 
tremely difficult for Hester. Her possessiveness would have 
been thwarted by any marriage Robert might have made. 
And Robert, like his father before him, had married a 
woman as different as possible from his mother. 

Juliana's violence was partly baffled by Hester's self- 
control. Juliana could not understand self-control. To her 
it meant that the girl had no feeling. She considered that 
Hester had failed as a wife and as a mother because she 
had ventured to keep up a few of her outside interests and 
was not always in the house at any moment that Juliana 
might feel like descending upon her. It was Hester, she 
was certain, who was responsible for the change in Rob- 
ert. "He was never like this to me until he married," she 
said bitterly. 

She had gone into paroxysms of rage when, after his 
marriage, Robert had refused to come to see her every 
day before going home. She became more and more ex- 
aggerated in her demands and actions, until friend after 
friend had to slip away, outraged by her vituperation and 
even her insults. In the community at large she was thought 


more than queer, and Robert and Hester were pitied for 
what they must have to put up with. Her home became to 
her more and more of a temple with herself the high- 
priestess, as Hester expressed it. 

She lived near them on a fine estate whose garden was 
her hobby as well as her husband's. She was thus able con- 
stantly to interfere in Hester's plans for the children. 
When the grandchildren came, she transferred much of 
her possessiveness to them, and tried to find her satisfac- 
tion and happiness in them, since she could not get it 
from her son. Unfortunately, Hester said, she did not 
think of the children's happiness or development, but of 
her own. She wanted to do things for them that she, 
rather than they, enjoyed. She lavished costly clothes and 
toys upon them, and then expected that she had bought 
her way with them and with their parents. "She expects 
us all to dance as puppets to her will," said Hester. The 
results were that the children were afraid of her unexpect- 
edness and her demands and were none too anxious to go 
to visit her. But go they must. 

Cynthia, the children's other grandmother, exerted lit- 
tle direct influence upon them. Since her husband's and 
mother's death, she had taken a house near Hester and at 
once relapsed into her invalidism of thirty years before. 
The poor woman was almost stranded on an island of 
loneliness, indifferent to her daughters, resentful of her 
son's neglect of her for his young wife, and walled in 
with bitterness and lack of interests. She was unable to 
understand this modern world, so different from what her 


two-hundred-year-old conscience told her was the only 
right kind of world. 

Hester was always dutiful to her and went to see her 
every day. Cynthia, however, was always demanding more 
attention and carping at the way in which her grandsons 
were brought up. She had never been able to realize that 
her children had grown up and were able to make their 
own decisions. 

She was a jarring element in the lives of Bryce and Win, 
but to no such extent as their other grandmother. They 
had to be so quiet when they visited her that they felt no 
enthusiasm about her. 

Thus far Hester and I had traced some of the outside 
forces, in the shape of these various ancestors, that had 
been brought to bear on the two boys. Next we went over 
everything Hester could remember that had happened to 
each child himself. 

Both babies had been husky at birth. Both had had to 
be weaned early and had had difficulty in finding food to 
agree with them. But the right food once found, they 
thrived. Both had delicate throats, had had laryngitis and 
bronchitis and were susceptible to damp. This made the 
mother guard the children carefully and brought on the 
resentment of Robert and Juliana who felt that the chil- 
dren should be hardened instead of being kept in cotton- 

Besides these likenesses, there were many points of dif- 
ference. When Bryce was four-and-a-half a weak heart- 
valve showed itself and the child had to lie strapped to a 


frame for six months. He was cured, so far as the heart 
was concerned, but it was only afterwards that Hester 
realized that the deepest importance of this event lay in 
its influence on the character of both of the boys. 

Bryce had never shown either jealousy of or particular 
interest in his small brother. He had always demanded 
more than Win. But from the time he went on the frame 
he made Win his slave and the little fellow cheerfully ran 
his legs off for him. Bryce was jolly enough as long as he 
was the center of attention. He kicked his legs for exercise 
and often entertained himself. But when he got up and 
relearned to walk and the excitement of that had passed, 
he showed his displeasure at losing his commanding posi- 
tion by becoming unpleasant in his demands on everyone 
and particularly on his little brother. 

Thus the relationship of cleverly concealed exploiter 
and tormentor on the one hand and victim on the other 
developed between the two children, with disastrous ef- 
fects on the character of both. It even had its share in in- 
creasing Win's nervousness, as when Hester found that 
Bryce was so frightening the little fellow with tales of 
ghosts that Win nearly suffocated under the bedclothes. 
Bryce had kept on because "Win was so funny when he 
was scared." This is not an indictment of Bryce. Children 
often like to tease or hurt, just to see the reaction. They 
are unaware of the cruelty and even danger that can go 
with tormenting. 

Two years later, during an attack of pneumonia, Win 
had his taste of being the center of the family attention. 


After that he did not yield so easily to Bryce and it was 
only then that quarreling started between the brothers. 

In disposition, Win had always been the happier baby 
and the more generous. Although he enjoyed getting pres- 
ents, he had no desire for possessions and was always giv- 
ing away his things. He used his pocket-money to get 
treats for his mother, brother or friends; never anything 
for himself. Bryce was exactly the opposite. Also where 
Bryce neither gave nor expected affection, Win overflowed 
with it and longed for it in return. However, Bryce de- 
manded much more attention and praise than Win. Win 
had many friends who kept returning no matter how he 
had annoyed them. Bryce, on the contrary, had only one 
friend at a time. This was one trait where he was like his 
mother. But when the friend of the period played with 
other boys, Bryce was unhappy. 

When Bryce was able to get up from the frame the two 
children entered nursery school. Before long, the teachers 
called Hester's attention to both children's tense, harsh 
voices and their feverish activity. 

Hester, in her pre-occupation with the importance of 
physical care, consulted the doctor, who put both children 
on a rigid regime of long rest periods with bed at six 
o'clock. Two years later there had been no modification 
of this regime which the boys bitterly resented as they 
grew older and found themselves sneered at as "babies" 
among the other children. 

This over-cautiousness redoubled the indignation of her 
husband and mother-in-law, and created so much added 


tension in the already over-charged household that any 
good done the children by the relaxation and by the nurs- 
ery-school training in self-control was nullified. 

Juliana centered her attack on Hester's regime for the 
boys. The children were her grandchildren, therefore 
sturdy and in no need of pampering by doctors. She did 
not believe in doctors. Why follow their orders, even if 
there were orders, which she didn't believe! Hester was 
only making up this excuse to thwart her. So in revenge, 
when the children came to spend the night with her, she 
would break every rule of diet and hours. She gave the 
children a late, heavy dinner, always including potatoes, 
since potatoes had been expressly forbidden by the doctor. 
And she kept the boys up late so that she and her husband 
could thoroughly enjoy them. When Hester, in despera- 
tion, refused to let them spend the night with her again, 
her anger knew no bounds. But she had two weapons 
stronger than anger. One was money, which seemed to be 
always short in Robert's household, especially when it 
came to paying for the children's clothing or tuition. The 
other weapon was her own health. 

It was not that she gained sympathy from Robert when 
her health became precarious. She had trained him from 
infancy to have no use for illness, yet she was heart-broken 
when he refused to hover over her. It was her husband to 
whom her weapon was effective, and he, in his gentleness 
and tenderness, was often able to win Hester over, even 
against her better judgment. 

Hester, driven by the determination that her children 


should not be repressed as she had been, was long blinded 
to every fault in them beyond those that seemed to her to 
be caused by over-activity. She adored their abounding 
energy and wanted it preserved, but of course she realized 
that it must not be allowed to weaken them. So along with 
the rest periods her great concern was that they should 
eat plenty of wholesome food. Manners they could learn 

This caused another clash with their father. Robert 
could not stand their grabbing and gorging, even though 
he did the same thing himself. Bryce soon learned to con- 
trol himself when his father was at home, but poor Win, 
excited and clumsy, invariably ended in disgrace. The 
child's voice, too, was a signal for irritation in his father. 

Hester had tried in vain to get Win to be calm with 
Robert. "You want your father to respect you, don't you ?" 
she would urge, never dreaming that the child's over- 
eagerness to please his father excited him and made him 
do the very thing that brought wrath instead. Nor did she 
understand that a four- or five-year-old doesn't know what 
"respect" means. 

Next the nursery school director told her that Win was 
beginning to evade or lie in order to get out of trouble. 
Also, when he needed something to carry out his plans he 
would take it, regardless of his right to do so. He now 
realized that this was considered wrong, and was sly about 
it, whereas before he was quite open. This was the point 
at which Hester had sought help. 

The psychiatrist never saw Bryce, as the child was ill the 


day of the appointment. The testing and treatment I car- 
ried out at home. 

Bryce was a capable child. There were many things 
about him to admire. His vocabulary was mature. He 
used his hands remarkably well as he printed, painted or 
designed. His ideas were varied and fluent. He planned 
and put on plays at home and at school, generally about 
Norse gods and Greek heroes. 

He never had to be reminded to feed or clean his rab- 
bits. And he would put his vast array of toys to rights 
with system and little pressure. He was on the alert to 
look out for his own interests, knew how to keep on the 
good side of father and grandmother, was shrewd in bar- 
gaining and had a streak of cold calculation and mali- 
ciousness which it did not seem wise to attack directly. 
This coldness and calculation may have developed as an 
armor against the jealousy of Win which he had reason to 
feel, for Win had not only supplanted him as the baby of 
the family, but Bryce must have sensed that his mother 
felt closer to Win than she did to him. 

Help for Bryce seemed to lie first in changing Hester's 
point of view about repression, for children are quick to 
realize a change of attitude in those about them, whether 
in the direction of weakness or firmness, and then they are 
quick to change their own behavior accordingly. Next, 
Hester steered him into doing this and that to please peo- 
ple, and she would call his attention to their pleasure. Or 
she would help him identify himself with someone else, 
and try to see how he felt. Finally Hester firmly refused 


to listen to any more of his tattling. At the same time she 
watched to keep him, unobtrusively, from imposing on 

Win, while awaiting his turn in the clinic playroom, 
showed himself excitable, rough and paying little heed to 
the requests of the playroom director. During the test he 
was constantly on the move, streaming with talk as each 
test called up some experience of his own. His attention 
was intense but short-lived because much of the time the 
contents of the room called to him louder than did the 
tests. Although he was eager to do whatever was asked of 
him, he would become impatient when things did not 
work out as quickly as he expected, and then he would 
call for help and sympathy. He was punctilious about each 
detail and became pettish when his technical ability was 
not equal to working things out as he had planned. 

I was struck by his imagination as he made a series of 
lines across a sheet of paper, lines gradually diminishing 
in length. "This is an arrow flying further and further 
away," he said. 

Cooperative as he was with me during the tests, he 
showed himself, with Dr. Martin, a different child, deaf 
to commands, tense and explosive. He was reacting to him 
exactly as he did to his father. Dr. Martin told Hester that 
when Win did such things as throw stones that he must 
be made to feel the disapproval of the group and must 
learn that something unpleasant would always happen to 
him when he behaved so. Later on he could be talked to 
on a more ideal level, but right now, at five years of age, 


he must learn that certain things simply are not done, and 
that he must control his impulses to do them. 

"And as a practical help," he said, "be sure, always, that 
you have his full attention before you give a command. 
Then let nothing interfere with your seeing that it is car- 
ried out." 

He told Hester that she was making a mistake with 
both boys in laying too much stress on rest and quiet. 
"Don't deprive them of the good times other boys have," 
he said. "Take them to the circus. Let them have some 
real cause for excitement. Then they won't need to trump 
up so much. You're only facing the problem every mother 
of a normal boy has to face. Don't make them feel that 
they are different from other boys." 

After all, he went on to explain, only part of the chil- 
dren's over-activity and tenseness was due to her mistaken 
emphasis on self-expression. A large part was due to the 
ever-growing tension in the home. While it was true that 
if the children behaved less wildly some of that tension 
would relax, she could not expect a complete about-face in 
them until she and her husband had come to a better un- 
derstanding. He asked to have Robert come and talk with 
him about the children. But Robert refused flatly. Talk 
with a man already prejudiced against him by what his 
wife surely had said! No indeed! And he scolded Hester 
for not being able to manage her own children herself. 

Hester and I would each say laughingly to the children, 
in playing with them, "You must think I'm a mile away! 
Really, I can hear you better if you speak low." 


But it was not easy to make changes quickly or radically 
enough to offset the tension in the house. 

Robert was suffering because he was not getting what 
he wanted in his home. His wife was neither as much the 
mother, the companion or the playfellow he had expected. 
She still could not leave the children at any moment he 
wanted her to go off on a fishing trip with him. Indeed, 
she was not always feeling strong enough these days for 
his strenuous kind of play. At home he wanted authority 
and no responsibility. He wanted the house and children 
perfect, but his wife must spend no time making them so. 
The children must have charming manners, but his wife 
must not train them, because that deprived him of his au- 
thority over them. He often lost his temper and swore 
roundly at both wife and children regardless of who was 
in the room. He began driving away his friends as his 
mother had driven away hers. He was not going to be a 
nonentity in his home as his father was, he cried. Curi- 
ously, the only influence his gentle, considerate father 
seemed to have upon him was to make him resent gentle- 
ness. He never faced the fact that he had become the 
image of his mother. Trained by her to consider himself 
the one precious object in life, he expected the same con- 
sideration from his wife that he had received from his 
mother. In browbeating Hester he probably felt, half- 
consciously, that he was triumphing over his mother. 

I had a startling glimpse one day as I waited for Hester 
to come home into the power of imitation on little Win, 


who, longing for his father's affection, took him as his 
model in manliness. 

The maid was setting the table for dinner. Win came 
in, ran up and hugged me, then sauntered into the dining 
room and proceeded to disorder the table. The maid re- 
monstrated. He flew at her and started to strike her. This 
was too much for me to bear in silence, so I ran in and 
stopped him. 

"Why did you hit her?" I asked him. 

"Oh, that is what daddy does to mother," he answered, 
wide-eyed. "I like to be like my daddy." 

Hester's attitude regarding her husband's striking her 
was interesting. "That's a mere childish outburst. What I 
resent is his disrespect for my mind, and his repudiation 
of all responsibility." 

A few months after Hester had been getting our pro- 
fessional help in handling her problems, Win did some- 
thing at table that irritated his father, who angrily lifted 
the child and slammed him down so violently on his chair 
that the little boy's nervous twitching, somewhat im- 
proved, increased alarmingly. 

Hester consulted Dr. Martin again. He repeated what 
he had said before, that the boys acted as they did, not be- 
cause they were high-strung, but that they were high- 
strung because of the strain around them. Under the cir- 
cumstances, he felt that it was wisest to get the boy away 
for a time from the possibility of such scenes. 

We picked out a very small school not far away which 
had unusual teachers and where Win could come home 


for occasional week-ends and holidays. Win wept at leav- 
ing his mother, but once at school, he was busy and happy. 
He began to improve in health and in behavior. He often 
spoke of his mother and Bryce, but never of his father. 
When he was asked about him he replied, "I don't like 
him. He beats me," and never another word. 

But of course Juliana objected to the scheme from the 
first. She insisted that Hester was trying to get rid of Win, 
so she would adopt him, poor little unloved waif. She 
would get him, she declared to her husband, if she had to 
raise hell to do it. She went to the school and demanded 
the child. The teachers, forewarned, said that Win was 
upstairs resting, could not be disturbed, and that they had 
no authority to let anyone but his parents take him. Un- 
able to move them with her bellowing, Juliana went home 
and raised such a scene for her husband's benefit that he 
could not calm her and finally came to Hester saying that 
he thought it would be dangerous to refuse to let her have 
Win, not only for her health, but for her sanity. The doc- 
tor had warned him. "I know it's bad for Win and that 
the new generation is more important than the old, but," 
he added pathetically, "y ou do not have to live with her. 
After she has kept me awake all night crying and going 
into paroxysms, I'm ready to do anything to stop her." 

This time, however, Hester refused to think of anyone 
but her son. When it was a question between a half- 
mad old woman and six-year-old Win, she determined it 
should not be the child who was sacrificed. However, she 


temporized for the moment for the sake of the distracted 
old gentleman. i 

What followed shows Juliana's mental state. James tele- 
phoned next morning that his wife had given up the idea 
of adopting Win, but that she was very ill. Just as he was 
telephoning she cried out that her left side had suddenly 
become paralyzed. For two days she could not move. 
Then came Hallowe'en. Bryce was giving a party, and she 
had planned to surprise him by dropping in as a witch. It 
was time to get well. 

She got up, put on the costume she had prepared the 
week before, went to Robert's house, tapped at the win- 
dow, went in and was gayest of the gay, later running up 
and down the streets with the children as if she had not 
been paralyzed that morning. 

The new school was a success with Win, but what it 
and the separation accomplished for both children was 
undone by the week-ends when Win came home. Bryce 
would resent him, Robert would jump on him, Juliana 
would descend upon him. He never knew how to stay in 
the background when his father was around, and he was 
equally excitable and apprehensive with his grandmother, 
for he never knew whether she was going to be interested 
in what he was doing or going to whip him for doing it. 
So he would return to school, trembling and half-sick. 

It was apparent that he needed a more drastic separa- 
tion, and his mother suggested a more distant school. Rob- 
ert was willing, but he could not afTord to pay for it. The 
only hope of getting the money was from the grand- 


parents. But if Juliana had exploded when Win was sent 
only a few blocks off, what would she do when she heard 
they wanted to send the child two hundred miles away ? 

I had never happened to meet the formidable Juliana, 
but here I rashly offered my services. 

"You'd better see her first," said Hester. "I'll use the 
garden as a pretext. Her prize dahlias are just at their 

So she asked permission to bring me, a newcomer to the 
city, to see the garden. At the last moment she telephoned 
me that she would be detained, but that she would join us 
later in the garden, and that Juliana was expecting me. 

I was not really prepared to see a gorgon. I had taken it 
for granted that Hester's emotions had naturally distorted 
her picture of the older woman. It was a shock, then, to 
be ushered into the presence of a mountainous figure in 
brown overalls, ready for the garden, a shock of wiry, 
grizzled black hair wild above a broad, red face. Glitter- 
ing black eyes, small, round; three chins and a booming 
voice further overwhelmed me, but, as I murmured polite 
nothings about gardens and grandsons, I found myself 
being led out into the garden, high in favor. 

"Fine boys, my grandsons. Take after my side, both of 
them. Weak, — need toughening. Need stronger food — 
meat — lots of good red beef. Fool doctors — fool mothers — 
won't be a he-man left on this country in another genera- 
tion. Look at those dahlias now. I see you're catching your 
breath at the sight of them. You're right, girl. They're 
wonders. And why? Food! I feed 'em. I give 'em what 


they need. I know what they want. Food, lots of it, 
strengthening food that makes tough fibers, red blood, 
strong bones — Food's life, young woman, and I know the 
great secret! I know how to ma\e life!" 

Her voice boomed louder and more excited with every 
word. I tried to stop the tirade by exclaiming over the 
dahlias, and asking questions about them. She answered 
enthusiastically and was pleasant if somewhat overpower- 
ing until she caught sight of Hester coming down the 
path. Instantly she grew rigid. Her face darkened. All of 
a sudden I found myself ducking, ducking to avoid the 
knives that seemed to whiz through the air as she an- 
swered Hester's greeting. I have never been able to recall 
her words. We got away as quickly as possible. 

"Now," said Hester, "am I wrong about her? Did I 

"Over-draw!" I exclaimed. "Under-draw, you mean. I 
confess I did think you must have exaggerated uncon- 
sciously, but now I see you've remained your cool, clear- 
eyed self, trying to be fair and dispassionate, even with 
her. She's much more terrifying than you said, formidable 
as your descriptions were." 

"The next question is, in the light of what you've seen, 
what do you think I can do when they come down to- 
night to discuss Win and his jerking? She'll roar me down 
when I tell her of the new plan, and father will get fright- 
ened for her, fearing she'll have a seizure or burst a blood- 
vessel or go off completely mentally. So I can't count on 


him to support me, and you know that Robert will never 
take a stand against her in her presence." 

"What will she say?" I asked. 

"Oh, the same old story — that I haven't a mother's 
heart, don't know what affection is, that I neglect home, 
husband and children, running about for strangers." 

"And how do you answer her?" 

"I'm always so upset," answered Hester, "that I have to 
make my voice very low and cool to keep it from break- 


"There's your line," I interrupted. "Let your voice break. 
She charges you with being cold. Show her you aren't. 
Choke and cry if you feel like it. Speak the language she 
understands. Let her see that you are emotional over your 
children too. Then she'll believe you." 

"But they'll all be so astonished. They've never seen me 
lose control. Indeed, I've never let myself. It's a habit of 
years," protested Hester. 

"Then they'll be the more impressed. Get hysterical. 
Jump up and shout, 'I can't stand any more!' Gesticulate 
to heaven. And call me up immediately after the encoun- 
ter is over." 

About ten o'clock that night the telephone rang. 

"Congratulate me! I'm on the top of the mountain!" 
Hester's voice sang exultantly. "I wish you could have 
seen her face when I broke out! She was ready to do any- 
thing to quiet me. So it's all settled. They will pay the tui- 
tion and she was sweet to me about parting from him." 

Juliana had actually helped put little Win out of her 


own reach. Hester could not cease to marvel at this 

But of course, in her distorted way, Juliana was sincere. 
She really had believed that Hester had no feeling for her 
children. She really believed that she was ruining them. 
Even though she herself exploited them and bullied them, 
she still had a real regard for their welfare. And Robert 
and Hester had asked her help, not merely her consent, in 
their plan. She was still playing a dominant role. 

So Win went off to school, not to come home until the 
long vacation and not even then if he were not ready. 

Meanwhile James and Hester accomplished what seemed 
to them another miracle. They persuaded Juliana to con- 
sult a psychiatrist, not for her own sake, but for her son's. 
And Robert had several hours with the same psychiatrist, 
ostensibly to talk with him about his mother. Partly be- 
cause of this opportunity, partly because Win, the chief 
bone of contention, was gone, the atmosphere in both 
homes cleared considerably. 

Bryce, with the field to himself, is becoming more agree- 
able. He has his mother's full-time interest, although she 
is firmer with him than she had ever been. But children 
like firmness. They like to know on what to count. To 
some extent Bryce's interest in people has grown but it 
seems unlikely that he will ever lose his self-centeredness. 

Win, so much more sensitive, resented by his father 
from birth, so dependent, so open to influence and so gen- 
erous, hurt until his fear led to evasion, is more likely to 
keep on being hurt by life. But he will not hurt other 


people, as Bryce may. He is doing well at school at pres- 
ent, gaining steadily in independence and self-control both 
there and in his lengthening visits home. 

As in all cases, whatever helps one member in the situa- 
tion, helps all the rest. Where before there had been a 
snowballing of difficulties, where one strain caused others, 
now the process was reversed, as shown by Win's more 
and more satisfactory visits, to a home which greets him 
with a calmer atmosphere. Hester, freed from some of her 
anxiety, found, too, that treatment for a sluggish glandu- 
lar condition is giving her more energy. This on the one 
hand enabled her to play more with her husband, making 
him less irritable and demanding, and on the other, the 
very energy gave her calm and patience. 

So, in looking back over the influences surrounding the 
two boys, it would seem that their faults were partly 
brought about by the illnesses that had come upon them, 
partly by the tension Robert caused through the fact that 
he was not only the spoiled child his mother had made 
him and the stingy one his grandmother had developed, 
but also because he demanded complete authority and sub- 
servience in his own home in order to avoid being the 
weakling he considered his father. Then, too, Hester's re- 
volt from her mother had its share in developing her chil- 
dren's difficulties in meeting life. 

And we saw, Hester and I, enough to explain why Juli- 
ana became the over-bearing tyrant she was, and why 
Cynthia became a moral prig. The stuff of which they 
were made, too, had been modified by circumstances into 


something undreamed of. Social heredity is a network 
that extends far back into the past, and is already starting 
to form the future. 

Fortunately for humanity, the network for the future is 
still thin and weak. It can be broken, as Hester broke cer- 
tain strands when she saw that their influence was bad. 
Among other things, once she realized that her children 
did not have the same maturity of intelligence and rea- 
soning that she did, and that children, left free to choose, 
without experience, are not free to choose wisely, but are 
at the mercy of their unconsidered, self-centered impulses, 
she knew what she should have done. If she had trained 
her boys from the start toward habits of meeting the 
world that would not have to be unlearned later, she 
could have prevented much of Robert's exasperation, and 
the children would have been on their way toward that 
very maturity she wanted for them. 

But it was not too late. Hester had the invaluable asset 
of a willingness to face her own mistakes. She wasted no 
time offering excuses. She proceeded at once to make the 
necessary changes in herself. 

"If I had only done this kind of thinking when the 
children were babies, or before!" she exclaimed. "I can see 
that if Robert had been trained to self-control and I had 
been given more freedom, our home would have been 
completely different." 

Re-reading Hester's story in the light of what has hap- 
pened to her and her children through the subsequent 


dozen years is a heartening experience. Our fears were not 

Both boys are in college, with the old difficulties well 
behind them. There has been a complete change in the 
home. Hester found Robert increasingly unpleasant to 
live with, and for the children's sake, as well as her own, 
she finally divorced him. A year or two later she married 
a widower with several children, a man much like James 
Alden in his tenderness and consideration. His children 
and hers became their children. The best in both her boys 
flowered in the stable, affectionate atmosphere. Win is 
half-way through college, gay, lovable, self -controlled and 
reliable. Bryce, just graduating, seems to have lost entirely 
the old cool calculation, and finds he has a knack of get- 
ting on with youngsters that he wants to turn to account 
by devoting his life to Boy Scout work. He is a handsome, 
open-faced young fellow, devoted to his family. 

How much of all this is due to our efforts, how much to 
the new family set-up, and how much to the inner quali- 
ties of the boys, developing as they grew older, we shall 
never know. Human nature is infinitely resilient. Because 
it is, most of us have become fairly decent, reliable adults, 
in spite of hampering childhood experiences. We need 
never feel discouraged. 


Living up to the Family Reputation 


\_)h, no, he isn't a bit interested in sex," said the mother. 
"He's only twelve, you know. He did ask me once last 
year how babies came, and I told him I didn't know ex- 
actly, but Td send for a book. I really meant to, but kept 



putting it off, and afterwards I was glad I hadn't, for he's 
forgotten all about it." 

"What makes you think he's forgotten?" I asked. 

"Why, he's never asked me another word about it." 

"Sometimes children don't ask, but they go on wonder- 
ing, or they ask someone else. If it comes up while I am 
talking with him, may I go on and tell him about the de- 
velopment of life ? The reason it seems so specially impor- 
tant just now is that very often when youngsters are mixed 
up with a gang that steals, or gets into other mischief, as 
Bob's has, the root of the trouble lies in the fact that they 
are worried about some sex question, and, believing that 
such thoughts are wicked, they avoid them by jumping 
headlong into something else. Now your boy got into 
trouble through his gang, and you say he's started taking 
money from your purse and from his brother's bank, and 
besides, is falling down in his school work. I want to give 
him whatever information he seems to need. You've al- 
ready given me several clues to his behavior, I'll talk more 
with you later, but now I want to see Bob." 

The mother of the twelve-year-old who had been 
caught "lifting" at the "Five and Ten" raised a flushed, 
puzzled face. 

"Please tell him. I never could myself. I'd die of shame." 

"Thanks. Here are some stories of youngsters you may 
be interested in reading about while I am talking to Bob. 
As soon as he and I have finished, we'll come and all talk 
things over together." 

Bob was a tall, sturdy lad with big, clear eyes. He met 


strangers in a simple, friendly fashion, and chatted easily 
over the tests, in which he showed much interest and good 
ability. The conversation was led around to the begin- 
nings of life, and I asked him casually if he knew all about 
it, or was there anything he'd like to ask. 

"There isn't anything any more, thanks. I asked my 
mother once, about a year ago, and she said she'd get me 
a book, but she never did, and now I don't need one." 

"Just what do you mean ?" I asked. 

"Well, the luckiest thing happened. A boy brought a 
doctor book to school and all us kids made a grab. Each 
got some pages, but I was the lucky one, for I got the im- 
portant page that told all about babies." 

"That was luck. What did it tell?" 

And Bob described — a Caesarean operation! 

Keeping a sober face with considerable effort, I re- 

"Yes, that's part of it, but that's only one way babies 
come, and the most unusual way. Would you like me to 
tell you the usual way babies grow and come into the 

The boy nodded. I drew diagrams as I explained, and 
brought out books and pictures. He listened attentively 
and pored over the pictures for a while. Finally he rose, 
threw wide his arms and exclaimed, 

"You've taken a load that big off my shoulders! The 
boys said things, but they are such liars I knew I couldn't 
believe them, and they mixed everything with dirty words 
and got me so balled up I couldn't go to sleep for worry- 


ing. I told you what happened when I asked my mother, 
and though I hated that gang because of how they talked, 
somehow I couldn't keep away from them after that. The 
words they'd say would come up in my mind and I'd do 
anything they told me. Getting hold of that page helped 
some, but it was kind of awful and scary and not like 
what you've told me. I want to go right to my mother and 
tell her all about it." 

He hurried into the room where she was waiting and 
flung an arm around her neck. 

"Mother, I've just had the most wonderful talk. I'll tell 
you all about it as we go home." 

I had intended talking to the mother again before she 
left, and having the boy in for the final plans. There was 
something more fundamental than the actual stealing 
about which she should be thinking. It seemed unwise, 
however, to break into this new mood of friendship be- 
tween mother and son. 

They came back a week later. Bob had not seen the 
gang since. 

"I don't know why I don't miss them, but I don't," he 
said. "I haven't wanted to be with them since that talk 
with you. I'm back with my old chum now and it feels 
good. Those ugly words don't bother me any more. 

"And the other thing doesn't bother me any more, 
either. You never said it, but I guess you knew, all right, — 
about the 'Five'n Ten.' I don't feel as if I have to do it 
any more. It used to be, every time those words came up 
in my mind, I'd feel better about them, — I mean I could 


get rid of them if I took something. And then I'd worry 
about that too." 

"I'm so glad it's stopped bothering you. If you get puz- 
zled about anything else, you can talk it over with your 
mother now, can't you, and you can always come here if 
you want me." 

"Didn't you tell me everything?" 

"Everything I knew about babies, Bob. But puzzles are 
always coming up in this queer world, you know." 

That was all that ever was said between Bob and me 
about the stealing. He had brought up the subject himself, 
and it seemed ended so far as he was concerned, unless it 
should crop up again. With his mother, however, I talked 
more fully, because we needed her cooperation in chang- 
ing Bob's whole background in order to make the cure 

He had not been happy at home. 

He had a model brother. This brother was four years 
older than himself. Bob could never hope to catch up with 
him. Bert fulfilled every demand of parents and teachers. 
He was quiet and bookish. He brought home superlative 
report cards from school. He was obedient. 

Bob, on the other hand, was lively and athletic. He was 
intelligent, but not brilliant in his classes. It would seem 
unreasonable to demand of these two types of boy identi- 
cal school marks and identical behavior. Adults, however, 
are often unreasonable, and that is exactly what they did. 
Bob had many of the same teachers who had taught his 
brother, and they were always talking "Bert" at him. Bob 


was on all the athletic teams and Bert had never been on 
any. This kind of superiority, however, did not impress 
either his teachers or his family. 

Bob's father was an irritable man, whose one require- 
ment in home was quiet. He shouted at Bob to keep still 
like his brother and not disturb him with his noise. His 
mother nagged at him for not being orderly like Bert. 
Both parents had held up the perfection of Bert till 
Bob was completely discouraged. Bert himself was always 
dropping nasty little remarks that put Bob in the wrong. 

Then along came this gang. 

"Since I'm a good-for-nothing, I may as well join up 
with them," he must have thought, knowing full well the 
reputation of the group. 

Probably, too, though largely unconsciously, he felt that 
in acting as he did, he was getting revenge on parents, 
teachers and the saintly Bert, by giving them something 
really to worry about. At the same time he was satisfying 
his need of appreciation and applause by doing what the 
gang considered daring. The ugly sex words they used 
started further complications. Probably they seemed to 
him, as they do to many children, more wicked than steal- 
ing, and so, by doing something openly punishable, like 
stealing, a child can get caught, receive his punishment, 
and will have satisfied his conscience and atoned for his 
secret sin in harboring sex thoughts or using sex words. 

I explained this whole story carefully to the mother so 
that she followed, step by step, the emotional road over 
which Bob had been stumbling, until she realized how 


alone and unhappy and disheartened he had felt. She saw 
suddenly that she and her husband had been playing fa- 
vorites, although she never would have admitted it before. 
Because Bert had not cared for noisy games and never was 
eager to have the boys in to play was no reason to deprive 
Bob of them. By so doing, she now saw that she had 
thrust him out into the streets and into the arms of the 
first group that had given him uncritical approval. 

Her own way was then clear to her. 

"It's hopeless to try to change my husband's attitude 
right now," she said. "He cannot bear to be put in the 
wrong. The only way in which he'll ever change his mind 
about Bob is if he comes to see that Bob is no longer dis- 
turbing his peace. But I can give Bob his good times be- 
fore his father gets home. We have a big attic and yard 
and I'll give Bob and his friends the run of those during 
the day. I'll fix him his own cooky-box in the pantry so 
that he can treat his friends. And I can plan surprises for 
them and always take time to be interested in his plans 
and ambitions. 

"Then I'll tell Bert all about it, and show him what his 
criticisms have been doing to Bob. He'll be interested if I 
tell him it's psychology." 

Now that the mother's attitude was so understanding 
and cooperative, it was the time to explain to her what the 
stealing really meant. Stealing always shows that a person 
feels deprived in some way, usually of affection. Those 
from whom he steals are the people he thinks have de- 
prived him. In Bob's case it was first his mother and Bert, 
second, society. 


I told the mother this as sympathetically as I could. It 
might seem strange that it was Bert's purse and not the 
father's that Bob rifled. But Bert probably was more like a 
father than a brother in Bob's eyes. Imagine what a differ- 
ence of four years means to a young child ! When Bob was 
four, Bert was eight. The effect of the difference still held. 
Bert loomed immensely adult. 

Stealing is not merely a protest at being deprived. Like 
all misconduct, it is also a revenge. The particular combi- 
nation of circumstances, past and present, determines the 
form the behavior will take. 

"The boys never had any pocket money," the mother 
added. "We provided so well for them that we thought 
they did not need any. We've always discouraged spend- 
ing and encouraged saving whenever the children got 
money gifts or earned any. Now I see that that was a 

"Didn't your older boy ever rebel?" 

"He did say a couple of years ago that he was big 
enough now to do what he pleased with the money he 
earned. He's always been so sensible that we agreed at 

"There's another reason, then, for Bob to revenge him- 
self on his brother," I said. "He must have thought, 'He's 
allowed to spend the money he's earned and I'm not.' 
That one thing could have created unfriendliness between 
the two if there had been nothing else. But I want to go 
back to the word 'deprive.' You thought it meant money. 
I mean much more. Bob felt deprived of your love and 
interest. He felt deprived of his place in his home." 


I might have added, although it was no longer neces- 
sary to stress it to the mother, that he had also felt de- 
prived of the sex information he had asked for in all good 
faith, and which was necessary to his growing up. 

Bob responded to his mother's plans as she carried them 
out. He did not know that she went to the school and got 
the teachers' cooperation in not judging him by Bert's 
standard. He did notice a new friendliness among the 
teachers and also in Bert. He and his mother were great 
friends, and the "kids" told him he was a lucky guy to 
have a mother who knew so well what boys like. 

He never returned to the gang nor to stealing. 

It may seem a miracle that one short talk could 
straighten out what seemed so serious a difficulty. But 
miracles of this kind are common. Sometimes, as with 
Elizabeth, the roots of unrest lie too deep to be easily un- 
earthed and tended. With most children, however, and 
with older people who have courage to face themselves 
and their mistakes, and who have the determination to 
rebuild their lives, these apparent miracles do happen. 
They mean that the behavior difficulties are only symp- 
toms, as a high fever is a symptom, of an underlying 
trouble. When that trouble, the emotional unrest and hurt 
of misunderstanding, is cleared away, there is no need of 
direct attack. The symptoms usually disappear of them- 


When Children Worry about Sex 


In happy contrast to Bob's experience I recall Hugh's. 
When he went to his mother, puzzled, he got just the 
help he needed. 



"Mother," said eight-year-old Hugh one day coming in 
after school, "I don't think I want to belong to Alice's 

"What club?" asked his mother. 

"It's a club for her and Jonathan and Kitty and me. It's 
to stay on after school and go in the weeds behind the 
barn and take off our clothes and lie down together." 

With great effort Mrs. Harding controlled her face and 
voice and asked, evenly, "Have you started the club yet?" 

"No, because after I got half undressed I decided I 
didn't like it and came on home, so the others did too. 
Don't you think I was right, mother?" 

"That sounds like a very stupid club, and you showed 
good sense in not liking it. Now run upstairs and get 
ready. I'll buy your new shoes this afternoon." 

As soon as Hugh was out of earshot Mrs. Harding 
called up the school principal, made an appointment for 
the following day, giving him an idea of what was going 
on, so that he promised to see that no child lingered on 
the school-grounds after school hours. Then she made an 
appointment with me. She came that evening to consult 
me about the incident as she had come on several occa- 
sions with earlier problems. 

"You handled the emergency admirably," I said. "I am 
really astonished at your self-control." 

"I didn't want to frighten him from going on with his 
confidence. Besides I suppose I was playing for time to 
think. And I didn't want to make the thing monstrous in 
his mind." 


"Exactly!" I answered. "Nor to make him feel guilty 
when he was only ignorant. His instinct not to go on with 
the club was so healthy." 

"But now what to do?" 

We both felt that things had been stirred up in Hugh 
which should not go unexplained. Mrs. Harding described 
to me later how our plan for a simple explanation had 
worked out. 

The boy's father had not wanted to mix in the matter, 
so on her first opportunity to be uninterrupted, Mrs. 
Harding called Hugh in. She supposed, she began, that 
he'd wondered why he suddenly felt he didn't like that 
club. The boy admitted that he had. He added that there 
had been remarks among the children that puzzled him 
and which the boys had told him to keep mum about. 

"About how babies come and how they get started in 
the mother's body, I suppose?" 

"Yes, mother, but of course you told me long ago about 
being in the mother's body. It's how they get started the 
kids talk about." 

"And they should know about it. It's part of nature's 
plan for us all. 

"The start of almost every living thing is the joining 
together of two different kinds of tiny cells into one new 
cell. This new cell is the beginning of the baby, — baby ant 
or flower, or bird or puppy or human being. One of these 
two cells comes from the father. It is called the male cell 
or sperm. The other cell comes from the mother and is 
called the female cell or tgg. The egg is much larger than 


the sperm, for it holds food for the unborn baby to 
grow on. 

"Each cell has material in it ready to become eyes, hair, 
brains and every part of the body. But neither male nor 
female cell can come to life alone. They have to meet and 
mix together. This meeting and mixing is called fertiliza- 
tion. Each cell needs something from the other. Nobody 
knows exactly what it is, although scientists keep learning 
new things about it. 

"One thing is certain. The new cell is partly like its 
mother, partly like its father, partly like other relatives, 
but it is also different from any of them. It has something 
all its own. You have hair like your father's, and a mouth 
like mine, but you don't look exactlv like either of us. 
You are you. 

"Now I want to tell you how the male cell meets the 
female cell. In fishes the two cells meet outside the par- 
ents' bodies. The mother lays her eggs and the father 
spurts his sperm out over them. But in most animals the 
mother's eggs drop into a little sac inside her and the male 
cells get into this sac in order to reach the eggs. So this sac, 
called the uterus or womb, has an opening like a tube to 
let the sperm in. Later when the baby is ready to be born, 
it will let the baby out. That you know about. 

"This tube, the vagina, is narrow, except when the baby 
stretches it on its way out. So part of the father's body 
must be narrow to slip into it to carry the sperms to the 
eggs. This long, narrow part is called the penis. Every boy 
and man has one. The male cells are kept in the two little 


pouches called testicles just behind the penis, and the 
penis serves as a pipe to carry them through the narrow 
vagina to the mother's eggs." 

The mother paused to ask if Hugh had any questions, 
and the boy asked one which troubles many children. 

"I've wondered about it ever since you told me how 
babies were born. Isn't it kind of dirty to come where 
urine and bowel movements come ?" 

"I'm glad you asked that because that is a mistake I can 
clear up. Babies don't come down any passage but their 
own. They have a separate passageway in the mother's 
body that brings them out into the world. With fathers, 
the passageway is the same for the male cells as for the 
urine, but before the cells are ready to pass through, a 
most interesting thing happens. Nature cleans out the pas- 
sageway by pouring a liquid through it that makes it like 
new, fit for the sperm to pass through. Does that answer 
your question ?" 

"Yes, that's just what I wanted to know. Gee, mother, 
I'm glad I know it." 

"Now here comes something more that is very impor- 
tant. All animals have to wait until they are grown up 
before they have babies. The bodies of young animals and 
children are not ready. The eggs and sperms are not 
ready. Then for several years longer their bodies are not 
strong enough to be sure to have children sturdy enough 
to grow up well. You can see besides, that they have to be 
truly grown up men and women before they can take 
care of children, providing a home for them and sending 


them to school. For a baby to come when its parents are 
not ready for it and cannot take care of it is sad for 

"Boys and girls naturally want to know about these 
things long before they can be parents themselves. Chil- 
dren like to act big and they often try to do what they do 
not fully understand. That is what was the matter with 
the club. They know only a tiny bit about what they were 
planning to do, and that is why you felt you could not go 
on with it. You were exactly right. 

"There is another reason for waiting. Many animals 
take any mate. But civilized human beings are happiest 
when they mate with the one they love. It may take a long 
time to find the right mate, but when she is found, the 
mating is beautiful, because the two feel that they belong 
to each other and are almost one person. It spoils that 
wonderful experience to use it too early and too often. 

"We can talk more about this some other time if you 
want. Meanwhile think all this over. If anything is not 
clear or you want to know more, just come and ask. I 
don't know everything. But then nobody knows every- 

"Thanks, mother, I get you." And Hugh was off. 

She had given him a direct answer to his eight-year-old 
puzzlement about how babies get started, by explaining 
the machinery of conception, just as she had explained to 
him the machinery of coining money and of mining salt 
when he had asked her about them. But she had done 


more than this, and had done it deliberately. She had 
opened doors to the emotional value of mating so that 
later on as his needs grew she could help him further. 
Then things that she had merely hinted at would have to 
be clothed in definite words. 

Most parents find that their greatest difficulty in giving 
their children sex information lies in explaining inter- 
course, or, as they say, "the father's part." I have tried to 
help with this difficulty by giving one mother's solution, 
her first talk on this phase of the subject with her eight- 
year-old boy. 

She knew that he would be bound to have more ques- 
tions, to hear more from the outside world, and that he 
must face certain facts. He would see that there were 
happy and unhappy marriages, that there were marriages 
without babies and babies born without marriage; that 
there were whispers of "having fun" without having to 
have babies, and she must be prepared to talk any or all of 
these things over with him as the opportunity arose. She 
must show him the responsibilities of young people to- 
ward each other. She must tell him, too, the frequent 
penalties for hurrying into sex experience prematurely: — 
social disapproval, disease, psychological suffering and 
guilt. And there was the big, constructive side of idealism. 

All of these he should know about in their broad out- 
lines before he becomes adolescent, roughly at least by the 
time he is twelve or thirteen. When he is fifteen or six- 
teen, with the idealism of youth and actual marriage com- 
ing closer, the idealistic side should be stressed, the reasons 


for happy and unhappy marriages explained, the argu- 
ments for and against marriage in its various forms gone 
over. Then, too, is the time for a fuller discussion of pen- 
alties that lie in loss or destruction of the more delicate 
capacities for happiness as well as in actual disease and 

But this was all in the future. What she had actually 
done at the present moment was to remove from Hugh 
the feeling of secrecy and guilt that the club had aroused. 
The school helped in this. As a result of her interview 
with the principal he hastened the plans he had already 
made to introduce, alongside of chemistry and other sci- 
ence, courses in human biology, suited to both older and 
younger students, and using slides and moving pictures. 

One of the most valuable things accomplished by the 
mother, more important than any specific warnings could 
possibly be, was a point of view. She had led Hugh with 
her, step by step, to share a grown-up sense of responsibil- 
ity toward the use of the delicate sex machinery, with all 
its potentialities. 

Mrs. Harding purposely did not bring up the subject of 
masturbation, because she had been warned against mak- 
ing the child feel conscious and guilty if he had discov- 
ered, as all children do in the childish exploration of their 
bodies, the sensitivity of those parts. The harm that comes 
from masturbation is not in the activity itself, but in the 
guilty feelings that go with it when there are vague memo- 
ries of a horrified mother snatching at one's hand, or a 
menacing voice uttering all sorts of dire threats which we 


know now are scientifically untrue. Wise parents merely 
provide plenty of interests and activities suited to the 
child's age and development. They know, too, that a child 
should never be sent to bed as a punishment, or to "think 
things over." A lonely, unhappy child may easily take this 
opportunity to comfort himself. Besides, bed should have 
only the pleasant associations of rest and sleep. 

If the child comes to them with something he has heard 
among his playmates, they explain that people used to 
believe those things, but know now that they are not true. 


Running Away — from What? 


\Jne day Edgar did not come home for lunch nor for 
supper. This had never happened before. 

He was gone all night and was found only after two 
days and nights, hungry, tired, ragged and with his 



mouth firmly shut. He kept it shut. His father gave him 
the conventional licking, and school also provided the 
punishment due young truants, but Edgar promptly ran 
away again and stayed three days. He was picked up by 
the police, ragged and dirty as before, went through the 
same ritual with father and school plus a bit added by the 
policeman, in spite of which he was off a couple of days 
later, a third time. 

Instead of taking him home, the policeman who found 
him this time brought him to the Children's House. The 
thin white face, drawn with hunger and with eyes red- 
rimmed from lack of sleep and perhaps from crying, did 
not look sullen. It looked hopeless and set. The blue eyes 
were very blue under their down-cast blue-veined lids, 
when you got a fleeting glimpse of them. We saw a gentle, 
sensitive, finely drawn little boy of ten who looked starved 
for more than food. 

His rocky silence was not proof against friendly sym- 
pathy and soon he was sobbing unrestrainedly and little 
gusts of words rushed forth : — 

At school — the kids — all sorry for him 'cause he had a 
wicked stepmother. They were always wicked, stepmothers 
were, like Cinderella's. The boys said so, and they'd read 
lots of books. Not one of them had a stepmother. And 
when father'd come in, he'd pick up the babies and throw 
them clear to the ceiling, lots of times, even when he was 
tired. Or if the babies cried, they'd fuss over 'em and they'd 
talk about 'em and never about him. Never play with him. 
Only scold him if he cried. And he just couldn't go home 


to them and hear them talk and talk about the two babies. 

He'd slept in a garage one night and out in a field the 
next. It wasn't cold. And a lady'd given him some bread 
and told him to go home to his mother and he couldn't 
tell her he had no mother — only a wicked stepmother — 
He wasn't ever going to tell that. 

But he did go home, and quite willingly, when he 
finally realized that his parents had been so distressed 
about his being away that they must love him after all. 

The stepmother was, in fact, anything but wicked. She 
was a pleasant, friendly girl, who mothered Edgar. His 
own mother had deserted him and his father when he was 
a baby. He knew she had gone off with another man, and 
he felt pretty bad, he said, when he thought about her 
and how little she must have loved her baby. His grand- 
mother had taken care of him until he was five and his 
father married again. 

For several years Edgar seemed perfectly happy. Two 
half-brothers had come, cunning, jolly little fellows. Edgar 
had never seemed jealous of them. To the parents his 
running away was inexplicable. 

But he had given the explanation to me. The suggestion 
of the boys at school that stepmothers are always wicked 
had done the mischief. It was after that that he began to 
notice how differently from himself the two babies were 

I explained to him that when people are tremendously 
worried, as his parents had been when he had run away, 


and then get suddenly relieved, they often just have to 
vent the strain they have been under by flying violently at 
the person they have worried about. They scold or spank, 
or in some way make him pay for upsetting them so, no 
matter how glad they are to have him back. He seemed to 
understand this and to be pleased that there was so much 
concern for him. He also seemed struck with the explana- 
tion that after all he was too big and heavy for his father 
to toss to the ceiling, and that when he had been little and 
just beginning to walk and talk, there had been commo- 
tion over him, too. 

Meanwhile his parents had been told about what was 
"eating him" and had been given some hints as to how 
to receive him on his return. The result was that they 
greeted him affectionately with no scolding, and they 
tried to even up the attention they paid the three children. 

But in two weeks Edgar was gone again. He had been 
so happy that morning and so helpful that his mother said 
she had thought at breakfast what a different child he had 
become. But lunch time arrived and no Edgar. When he 
was discovered, several days later, he was in a worse 
plight than ever. There was no question but that he had 
undergone considerable physical suffering. Besides the 
hunger and cold, it had rained and he'd caught cold and 
just missed pneumonia. 

He was not taken home, but stayed at the Children's 
House where I could see him every day. As soon as he was 
well enough he talked freely, though with sobs, about 


what had driven him to run away again. It was the step- 
mother idea. Tom, his best friend, had walked home with 
him as they went to lunch, and on the way began to say 
how sorry he was for him, going home to only a step- 
mother, and how he wished he could bring him to his 
home, and share his dear, nice mama with him. And then 
somehow Edgar just couldn't go on home. A stepmother 
couldn't love you after all, and he felt something queer 
inside him that wouldn't let him go back into that house. 
So, though he was almost home, he turned and went as 
far away as he could. Yes, he was hungry, but it was worse 
to go home. 

It was clear that at the moment he did not feel sure 
enough of his place in the family to go back home. He 
must learn to become more self-sufficient, more able to 
understand that the wicked stepmother of the fairy tale is 
usually only a fairy tale. 

It was clear, too, that in the home there was a certain 
amount of strain not due to him, but which he sensed 
as it reacted on him. The stepmother was not well. Her 
two babies had come close together and she needed medical 
and surgical attention. The fact that she was dragged and 
tired made her temper short at times, and she was some- 
what given to nagging. Edgar was not the only member 
of the family to bear the brunt of this, but he thought he 
was. He took each time she was over-wrought and im- 
patient as a fresh proof of the belief the boys had inocu- 
lated that stepmothers were wicked and could not love a 
stepchild. It might be well for her and for the entire 


household to give her time to build up her own health 
before Edgar should return. 

It was further clear that along with the very real suffer- 
ing from the belief that he was not loved by his parents, 
ran an equally real elation. His vanity was tickled by the 
boys' pity for him as the victim of a cruel stepmother. He 
was suddenly a young person of romantic distinction, 
standing on a sort of pedestal. This was very different 
from his position at home. And he could be sorry for 
himself too. He could think of himself as a noble, suffer- 
ing hero. Something of this had helped him stand the 
hunger and cold and discomfort of his runaway episodes. 
The dirtiness he did not mind. Boys of that age don't. 
All in all it seemed wise to plan for him to stay with us 
for some time. 

And that was the end of the running away for that 
period. With us he did not expect to be singled out for 
special attention. He took it for granted that he was one 
of the group, and so there was nothing to run away from. 
He throve physically, mentally and socially. He was given 
messages from his parents for some time before being 
allowed to see them. 

Finally he went to have Sunday dinner with them and 
all passed off well. Of course, he was the honored guest. 
It was several months before it seemed safe, however, to 
let him go home to live. He seemed a little too plaintive 
still to be strong enough to manage not to break under 
such a complicated situation. There was the stepmother 
notion, unfounded as it was; his jealousy of the other 


children; his own babyish refusal to be a big brother; 
a father who enjoyed babies better than older boys; an 
invalid mother, with her consequent lack of patience, her 
gusts of scolding, nagging and complaints; and finally, 
the over-emphasized attention of the boy to himself, his 
habit of looking for slights and his enjoyment of the 
stimulating pity of his playmates. 

It was this latter that again was the pivotal point after 
the boy had finally gone home to stay. For weeks every- 
thing had gone well. Then, without warning, it was all 
to do over again. It was winter, a late Saturday afternoon. 
The boys were sliding together when Edgar's chum asked 
him how his stepmother treated him now. Even though 
the teacher had been told the cause of Edgar's running off, 
and had warned the children to make no further reference 
to his stepmother, the impulse to tease was irresistible, or 
perhaps the little boy merely forgot. Children often do. 
However it was, the old wave of despair went over Edgar 
again. He could not bring himself to go home, and ran 
off into the snowy evening. Pneumonia followed, once 
he was found, shivering and yet burning with fever, in an 
old barn. 

He will not go home for a long time now, if ever. His 
parents are unwilling to trust him. They had done their 
best. His demands may have been too great for any family 
to fulfil. The other children have their rights also. Edgar 
does not run away when he is one of a group in a rather 
impersonal atmosphere. That seems to be what he needs 
just now. 


Mark, too, had taken the tossing of the little brothers 
into the air as a sign that he was no longer loved. It is a 
frequent misunderstanding. Proud as children are of their 
increasing height and weight, they do not realize all the 
consequences to themselves unless it is clearly explained to 
them that they are now too heavy for even fathers and 
uncles to toss about, and that, instead of such baby play, 
they are now entitled to privileges that belong only to 
more grown-up people. 


Isabel's parents were at their wits' end. For the past two 
months she had been running away and nothing could 
hold her, either at school or at home. Her school work 
had never been brilliant, but coincidently with her run- 
ning away, it had fallen flat. Furthermore, at exactly the 
same time, her teacher recalled, she had begun chumming 
with a most undesirable little girl. 

The parents' first step had been to take her to a child 
guidance clinic in the town where they lived. There she 
was sullen and silent. Her intelligence seemed to be aver- 
age but slightly slow. However, she was too unresponsive 
during the tests for any judgment to be made. The par- 
ents were advised to send her away to the Children's 
House, where sympathetic interest was taken in all chil- 
dren. Thus she came to us. 

She seemed happy to come and responded at once to the 
friendly atmosphere. She was a spindly nine-year-old, 


plain for the moment, but with promise of future good 
looks. She had large, buckling front teeth, in need of 
braces, fine eyes that always looked anxious, towsly black 
hair and long, limp arms and legs. 

I found, in checking the tests, that the child's three- 
and-a-half years in school had passed so lightly over her 
head as to leave hardly a trace. Her intelligence was 
normal, yet she read, not what was on the page, but what 
she thought ought to be there. Adding and subtracting 
were unsolved mysteries. Writing and spelling were quite 
divorced in her mind. How she had ever gotten as far as 
the fourth grade was a mystery. It would have been cruel 
to send the child to the second grade, where she could get 
the groundwork she needed. I decided to have her come 
daily to my office for an hour and do her school work with 
me. She was overjoyed and was ready to work her head 
off if only she could stay on alone with me. 

She seized my hand one day and began covering it with 
kisses. I drew it away gently and smiled at her as I began 
chatting about the story I was reading to her. She was 
starved for affection and appreciation. In response to my 
quiet, unvarying kindliness, she had given me the de- 
votion of her passionate little heart. Still she said little 
about herself. 

Her school work advanced rapidly, as she began to 
grasp the relationships of sound and number. Nevertheless 
within a couple of weeks an outcry ran through the house. 
Isabel was gone and with her little Nellie, the four-year- 
old daughter of one of the staff. 


After a morning's vain search, the two children were 
seen coming up the walk. The frantic mother seized her 
own child, at the same time pouring upon Isabel the tor- 
rent of her wrath. Isabel looked bewildered and upset, 
but did not answer. She seemed stunned at the avalanche 
of words. 

I interposed. "Suppose Isabel comes to my office and 
rests a little. Then she will tell me all about it." 

Isabel seized my hand and we went into the quiet office. 

"I didn't run away!" she exclaimed. "I wouldn't run 
away from here. Nellie had a nickel and she asked me to 
take her to the store to spend it. I didn't know where the 
store was, but she said she knew. But she didn't and we 
walked and walked and at last I thought we'd better go 
back and we walked and walked some more and we were 
really lost. So I asked someone and they told me. I was 
afraid Nellie'd be hungry, so I made her spend her 
nickel for some milk. She was mad at me. She wanted 

Nellie confessed to the same story and the episode was 
over. Isabel, her tongue once loosened, talked freely for the 
first time of what had happened that led to running away 
when she was at home. 

There was the scolding of her mother, no matter how 
hard she tried to do things the way her mother liked 
them; the bossing and jeering of the two big sisters; the 
unbearable little brother who was always right, no matter 
what he did, and who made fun of her and teased her. 
Then there were the teachers who scolded her too, when 


she made mistakes, and talked about her big sisters and 
how much better they did and how they paid attention. 
The girls at school never wanted to play the games she 
wanted, and when she got mad they'd run away from 
her and shout sneery things at her. Nobody liked her. 

Then Emma came over and was nice to her. Emma 
asked her to come home with her and play. She couldn't 
resist, lonesome as she was, though she knew she was for- 
bidden to go into the part of the town where Emma lived. 
Then Emma said she knew of a fine place for a picnic, 
instead of going to school. Emma was so good to her she 
couldn't bear to say no, especially as Emma said she 
wouldn't like her any more if she was a 'fraid-cat. Then, 
when she did go, Emma was awfully proud of her and 
planned more exciting things to do together. She wanted 
to be with Emma all the time and Emma just wouldn't 
go to school any more. "But now," added Isabel, "I like 
to go to school, 'cause I love coming in here. It's so quiet 
here," she ended, "and you're so nice." 

Isabel was partly right in what she felt about her home. 
She had too many bosses, with the fourteen- and sixteen- 
year-old sisters and a high-strung, impatient mother. The 
sisters alternately bossed and ignored her. The seven-year- 
old brother, who could do no wrong in her parents' eyes, 
teased her and her mother scolded her for her dreamy, 
inefficient ways. Her father had always stood by her, in 
the face of the family criticism, but he was a traveling 
salesman, and rarely at home. Another difficulty facing 


Isabel was that her sisters always had had excellent school 
reports, and parents and teachers held the girls up to her 
as examples. 

All these difficulties had overwhelmed the child, and, 
afraid to face them, she had evaded them by running 
away from them. My hope was to help her get the courage 
to face them and solve them as well as she could. 

In the dormitory of the Children's House she was meet- 
ing with fresh difficulties. She "scrapped" with the girls, 
and she was careless about her belongings. The assistant 
in the dormitory had no patience with her. The staff had 
been chosen as carefully as possible, but prejudices would 
crop out from time to time. Shortly after the Nellie episode 
I met Isabel sidling around the corner of the building, red- 
eyed, in her stocking feet, her shoes in her hand and a 
tremendous bulge under the front of her frock. 

"Why, what's the matter, Isabel?" I exclaimed. 

The answer came with a rush of tears. "I've just got to 
run away. She makes me sit and sit and sit up there in 
the dormitory and she scolds me all the time, so I've just 
got to go. My clothes are all here in my bloomers." 

"Go and leave me! Oh, Isabel, I'd be so lonesome for 

Instantly the shoes were flung wide and the grotesque, 
bulging little figure was throwing itself into my arms, 
sobbing wildly. 

I drew her back into my office, which was filled for her 
with only friendly, happy associations. Now was the time 


to help her to see what she was really doing and where 
her mistake lay. 

"Things were hard for you and so you were running 
away from them. That's it, isn't it?" 

She nodded. 

"It's just the same as when you were home. You ran 
away when you were bossed too much, or scolded too 
much. See here! You've been doing arithmetic. Tell me, 
can you ever get the answer to an example in adding by 
saying, 'Oh, it's too hard!' and running off without trying 
to get the answer?" 

"Oh, no!" 

"Well, all hard things are the same. You can't find the 
answer by running away from them. You have to stop 
and look them square in the face and think and think 
what you can do to make them better. That is, to find an 
answer. Now, here in the dormitory — Pretend you are 
Mrs. Mowbray, and you're in charge of that big room full 
of girls. Would you like it if you came in and found 
everything lying about?" 

Isabel was listening intently, but she did not answer. I 
went on: 

"I was a careless little girl and my mother used to scold 
me about not putting my things away nicely, and I hated 
to be scolded and was angry with her. I hated to take time 
to put things away. Then I found things didn't get torn 
or broken if I was careful with them, and I liked the look 
of my cool, pretty room when I'd taken time to hang up 
my clothes and put things in drawers. It made me feel 


peaceful inside. I'm not very good about being orderly 
yet, but I do try, and I like to come into an orderly room." 

Isabel was still listening, with a thoughtful, softened 

"How do you get on with the girls," I asked, "now 
youVe come to know them, Isabel?" * 

"They don't like me and I don't like them. You're the 
only one I like here." 

"Would you like them to like you?" 

Her eyes filled. 

"Of course you would. Everyone wants to be liked. And 
I know I can help you if you'll try." 

Then I went on to explain that people usually liked you 
if you were interested in them, and joined in their games, 
and listened to them and didn't always try to make them 
do what you wanted. 

"Maybe you've tried to boss them too much and they 
don't like it any more than you liked it at home. Now do 
you see what I mean for you to do?" 

"Yes," she said slowly. 

She did not try to run away again, even though it was 
not possible to modify greatly the attitude and technique 
of the conventionally minded dormitory official, kindly 
though she was in general. Fortunately, because of the 
understanding between us, I was able to give Isabel suffi- 
cient affection and self-confidence for her to build herself 

It was a fact that when she came to the Children's 
House Isabel was unattractive, with gruff manners that 


did not draw people to her. Yet already, with a spark of 
self-respect lighted by her very real achievements in arith- 
metic, reading and geography, she was holding her head 
higher, and her expression was less gloomy. As she im- 
proved in neatness, in keeping her hair brushed, and as 
her teeth slowly yielded to the straightening process, she 
became visibly more winsome and found herself with 
friends among the girls instead of antagonists. 

Hitherto she had been forced to the conclusion that no 
one wanted her or loved her, or thought of her as a per- 
son, except perhaps the father who was too much away 
to count in the scheme of things. Emma welcomed her. 
In Emma's plan of life you got away from your own 
miserable thoughts in the thrill of excitement. Following 
Emma was a natural, logical step in the building up of 
your own self-respect. 

Isabel had had to run away in order to save herself from 
annihilation. She did not put it into words, but she felt 
it and used the means she found to hand. Her action, 
though mistaken, was intelligent, because it was a protest 
against misunderstanding, wrong handling and injustice. 
This protest might have taken another form, but Emma 
appeared and offered one way out. Therefore running 
away rather than tantrums, illness, quarreling, or some 
other veiled means of registering her unhappiness and 
striving for consideration. Anyone of us would assuredly 
have worked out some form of protest under the same 
circumstances. If an Emma had appeared, we would prob- 


ably have seized on running away and the thrills of win- 
ning admiration just as Isabel had done. 

What a person does in any situation is the logical thing 
for him to do, given his background of experience. If we 
knew every item of that, we could foresee what he would 
do. In fact, we often do, or we say, "Knowing him, we 
might have foreseen it!" 

Logical thinking and immaturity of thinking can go 
hand in hand. Mature thinking, which means thinking in 
terms of give and take of a social world, is not to be ex- 
pected of a youngster of nine or ten. What this child was 
striving for was to feel safe in her parents' affection and 
to be recognized as a real person. When she got this recog- 
nition from the first adult who treated her with considera- 
tion, she responded with even greater enthusiasm than she 
had to the proposals of Emma. Perhaps blindly, uncon- 
sciously, she realized that at the Children's House she was 
living at one with the world around her, while with 
Emma, it was the two of them, she and the outlaw Emma, 
against the world, fighting it in a frenzied revenge for the 
suffering it had heaped upon them. 

Like Bob and his older brother, Isabel was expected to 
live up to the reputation of her older sisters. Like Stanley, 
whose story follows shortly, she, too, felt lost in the 
crowd. Again, she, like Sally Ann, must learn that she 
will have to pass many moments when she is forgotten in 
the press of other interests or even when she is disap- 


proved. Then she will have to depend on something in 
herself to keep her serene. This something inside may be 
an inner approval, an inner purpose. It may be a realiza- 
tion that she is only a part of other people's lives, as they 
are only part of hers. She too must learn that willingness 
to be ignored is a measure of her advance in growing up. 


The earnest young mother was deeply troubled, partly 
because her five-year-old daughter Dorothy persisted in 
telling "falsehoods," but chiefly because the child resisted 
so passionately any interference with the dream play- 
fellows she had fashioned for herself. 

"They are dreams," said the mother, "and I know she 
should face reality. I don't want her to grow up unable to 
make real friends and afraid to meet real difficulties in life. 
What shall I do?" 

This is a familiar problem among quiet, sensitive chil- 
dren. If the child were going to persist in this mental run- 
ning away from life on into adolescence and adulthood, 
her mother would have reason to worry. But many a child 
I know, and many of my grown friends, have told me 
about the imaginary playmates of their childhood. Some 
of them were actually lonely because they liked to be part 
of a group and there were not enough children around to 
satisfy their needs, but most of them simply did not find 
real children as interesting as their dream children. One 
friend, now a professional woman of wide and deep sym- 


pathies in her relations with people, said she didn't re- 
member feeling lonely, but had persisted in keeping her 
imaginary playmates partly because they were more inter- 
esting than any of the children she knew, but largely be- 
cause she could always mold them to her will, where she 
could not the more obstinate human material. 

I was able to help Dorothy's mother by telling her the 
story of this friend, whom I called Willa, as I had pieced 
it together from her own account and from that of her 
mother. It has particular value because it shows an under- 
standing family handling the situation without outside 

"The Grampuses say they can stay for supper tonight, 
both of 'em. I'd li\c them to, mother. May they?" 

Willa's voice was wistful. 

Her mother hesitated. 

"Please," begged the child. "They are so good and quiet, 
'most always, like you tell me to be, and they've never, 
never stayed to supper." 

"Very well, you may ask them to stay." 

As Willa ran joyously out of the room, her mother went 
to the window and watched the playing in the garden be- 
low. Then she took off the telephone receiver and called 
her husband. 

"Harry," she said, "the Grampuses are here again and 
what do you think Willa has taken into her head now! 
She wants to have them stay for supper. No, I did not re- 
fuse her. I rang up to warn you. Be sure to play up. Yes, 


I know it will be weird, but we'll live through it and so 
will she. Selma Crawford's Sue had an imaginary play- 
mate for years and outgrew it. So did Alma's boy. You 
know that. No, I'm sure you're wrong. Opposition only 
upsets her and will drive her further away into a dream 
life. I'm convinced of it and that the only way is to go 
along with her and yet take every opportunity to broaden 
and deepen her interests. I'll tell you what I have in mind 
when you come home tonight. I'm warning Helena and 
the maid, too. I'm counting on you to carry it off, re- 

Helena was Willa's ten-year-old sister. Willa herself was 
seven. Helena came in from school soon after. 

"Willa's having her beloved Grampuses for supper to- 
night, Helena," said her mother, "and we'll all have to be 
very careful not to laugh or hurt her feelings in any way." 

"Gee, that'll be queer, but it's O.K. with me. The Gram- 
puses keep her busy so she doesn't tag around after our 
gang. I think it's swell she has 'em." 

"You're sure, Helena, that she plays with other children 
at school?" 

"Oh yes, mother." 

"She says she does," went on the mother, "and the teach- 
ers say she never goes off by herself, and I've gone by the 
grounds several times and she is always in some group or 
other, so she can't be really lonesome. I wish, though, 
you'd play more with her, Helena, here at home." 

"Aw, mother, she's so little. None of the gang want her. 
She can't keep up and she doesn't like what we like. And 


when I do stay home with her, she never wants to play 
my games; and hers, really, mother, it's always fairies and 
house and magic. I'm bored to eztingshun." 

"Extinction, Helena, if you want to use the word. I 
don't want to spoil your fun, you know that. And you're 
never mean to Willa, but I do wish you two could be 
more companionable." 

"Can't you have her bring in some of the girls in her 
class every afternoon?" 

"She begs off, you know that, because she prefers the 

"Well, she can play all the fairy games she likes with 
them. What do you care, so long as she's happy ? I won't 
forget about supper, mother. Won't it be funny! Oh, it's 
time to practise," and Helena disappeared. 

Out in the garden the murmur of voices went on: 
"Now, Slinky, you can't get out of coming to supper. 
You're a big boy, and you never spill things on your chin. 
My daddy won't scold you. He's nice. And if Silky spills 
things, it doesn't matter, 'cause tonight she's little, aren't 
you, Silky darling? See, she says yes. How old are you 
today, Silky? Fwee 'ears ole" (this in a squeaky voice, 
then speaking naturally Willa went on). "Yes, you're the 
baby and I'm the fairy godmother and you're the wicked 
old witch, Slinky, and I'll be the mother too. Oo, you 
naughty bad witch! You can't come inside my magic cir- 
cle and take my baby. But I can't find my wand." 

Supper was a great success to Willa. Her little friends 
behaved themselves almost perfectly, even if she did have 


to apologize for dabbles of egg on Silky's bib and on the 
doily under her plate. To be sure, there had been a short 
but intense session between father and mother before go- 
ing in to supper, and Jennie, the colored maid, had rolled 
her eyes queerly as she offered vegetables and omelet to 
two carefully set, but empty places, served what was indi- 
cated by the squeaky or deep voice that came from Willa's 
place just beyond, and removed the untouched dishes. 

Conversation did not lag. Slinky asked questions that 
only daddy or mother could answer. He also took broth- 
erly responsibilitity for Silky. He admonished her for put- 
ting too much in her mouth. There was a bit of commo- 
tion when Silky choked over her food and had to be 
patted on the back. "That's 'cause you tried to talk while 
you were swallowing. 'Member what your mother says 
and don't talk with your mouth full," he reproved sen- 
tentiously, "or Willa's nice mother 'n father won't ask you 
again, will you?" turning to them. 

"Oh no!" indeed they wouldn't. 

A little later Silky was heard to remark that she hated 
custard. Instantly she was "shushed" by an anxious Willa, 
who explained that her parents did not like children who 
complained about their food. Her father and mother ex- 
changed glances. The companionship of the Grampuses 
might have values they had not suspected. 

There was one dreadful moment after dinner when the 
family was gathering in the living room. 

"Oh, daddy, you're sitting on Silky!" shrieked Willa as 


her father started to settle himself in his big chair under 
the lamp. He jumped as if he were shot, then looked 
sheepish, but turned and said gallantly, 

"Oh, pardon me, Silky, I really didn't notice that you 
were sitting there." 

Willa beamed. 

"Aren't they nice, daddy ? Wasn't it lovely having them 
to supper, and may I have them again?" 

To her mother's surprise, he answered promptly, "Yes, 
they are well-behaved children. I think their parents must 
be very fine people, to bring up their children so nicely. I 
hope they will come again some evening." 

Later he said to his wife: "It wasn't so bad as I ex- 
pected. Do you know, I could almost see those two little 
creatures myself, as I suppose Willa sees them. I got so 
intrigued watching her keep three personalities going I 
forgot what I was talking about several times, and was 
afraid I'd get one of those reproaches for being absent- 
minded. One thing, if we have the Grampuses in from 
time to time, we two can retire from the table manners 
business. Willa knows all the patter, I see." 

"I suppose she's had it dinned into her ears often enough 
to know it," said his wife thoughtfully and somewhat rue- 
fully. "Her talking that way makes me think we've over- 
done along that line." 

The following Friday Willa announced that she was in- 
vited to the Grampuses' for the week-end. "May I go, 
mother, only for Saturday and Sunday?" 


"Yes, but be home Sunday by five o'clock," said her 
mother, wondering how matters were going to be ar- 

Next morning Willa got out her little suitcase, carefully 
packed night clothes, fresh underwear and her favorite 
"best" dress, kissed her mother goodbye, hugged Helena 
and — went out into the garden as usual, her voice floating 
up, sometimes her own, sometimes in Slinky's boy-tones, 
sometimes in Silky's bird-flute. The suitcase lay beside the 
steps of the side door. 

At noon Willa picked it up, took it to her bedroom and 
kept it lying open for the rest of the two days, although 
she carefully hung up the "best" dress. Going down to 
lunch, she addressed her mother as Mrs. Grampus, Helena 
as Miss Grampus, and Jennie as Jane. 

"But you didn't set places for everybody! There are two 
missing," she exclaimed. So the two extra places were set. 
For the evening meal her father was Mr. Grampus and 
his guest tried her hardest to live up to the amenities. 

"And who is President these days, Mr. Grampus?" she 

"Dear me, what are we coming to!" she sighed at his 
answer. "Poly ticks is a very mixey-up subjeck, don't you 

Helena snorted, trying to bury her laugh in her napkin. 
Willa turned on her reproachfully. "Polyticks aren't funny, 
Miss Grampus. My father says they are most awf'lly im- 
portant." Then she turned politely, to address the other 
end of the table. 


"This dessert is 'lishus, Mrs. Grampus. Just how do you 
make it ? I'd like to ask my mother to make it too." 

The transposition of own family into Grampuses con- 
tinued without a slip until just before five o'clock on Sun- 
day afternoon, when Willa disappeared into her own 
room, emerged with her suitcase, went out to the side- 
walk, rang the door bell and was again in the bosom of 
her family. 

The following year was a busy one. There was practis- 
ing. There was the dramatic group that met every Satur- 
day morning, and Friday afternoons there was the danc- 
ing class, "fairy dancing," Willa called it. And Saturday 
afternoons there were hikes and games with "the club." 
Willa did not suspect that her parents were filling her days 
and making opportunities to bring her into contact with 
real people. There was little time for the Grampuses. 

When she was nearly ten her mother asked one day, 
"Where are the Grampuses ? They haven't been over for a 
long time. Have you quarreled?" 

"Oh no, mother. They've gone away and they aren't 
ever coming back." 

Willa's eyes filled with tears, but she went on resolutely, 
"They decided to emigrate, you know, in those big wag- 
ons, way up in Alaska." 

"Haven't they written you?" 

"No, it's too far away to write." 

That was the end of the Grampuses. Nor did any other 
imaginary playmate take their place. 


From Willa's story and from the experiences of others, 
we may feel sure that, practically always, the imaginary 
companions disappear when life becomes so full and inter- 
esting that there is no further need of them. 

Dorothy's mother asked one important question. 

"But Willa never faced the fact that they were imagi- 
nary. Isn't it of supreme importance that she do this?" 

It is not important that a child say so in actual words. 
I know of no children who ever did. But each child ad- 
mitted it tacitly in finally sending them out of his life. 
Some say they've moved away, or gone traveling. One 
child came in tears and said Blinka was dead. Another 
said there'd been a shipwreck and everyone was drowned. 

It would be as unwise and as unkind to demand more 
as it would be to insist on a child's saying in words that 
he is sorry, after his actions have clearly shown that he is. 

As to the question of truth and falsehood that worried 
the mother, imaginary excursions should never be called 
falsehoods. That word should be kept for lies told in pro- 
tection of self and others, and for throwing the blame on 
to others. This throwing the blame is the only case where 
lying is actually "bad," because it shows a deep-seated lack 
of appreciation of the rights of others. Imaginary adven- 
tures show only that the real home is too dull for a highly 
sensitive and imaginative child. 

In the story of the Houghtons the parents use another 
technique, equally successful, in handling a child who 

It is important to show such a child that the real world 


is interesting. But it is equally important not to go too far 
in thrusting him into more social living. Don't try to 
change the type of your child. A quiet, imaginative child 
can be very unhappy when he is forced to be hail-fellow- 
well-met. Too great efforts in that direction will only 
make people more terrifying to him than before, and force 
him into still further retreat. There are important places 
for the student type of person, and for the dreamer, when 
the dreamer makes his dreams come true. 


Refuge in Illness — from Growing Up 


Oally Ann was four years old when out of a clear sky 
came pneumonia, three agonized days, then the danger 
was past. 
"Get her out in the sun and back to the normal routine 



as quickly as possible. No coddling!" ordered the sensible 

That would be easy, the child had been so patient and 
good, and had never been spoiled. But it wasn't easy. 
Sally Ann had derived too much enjoyment from the ex- 
alted status of invalid. Her feelings were deeply injured 
at the sudden absence of hovering faces, of the jovial doc- 
tor, and of sickroom routine. She developed unexpected 
needs to bring her parents to her room, needs which had 
to be dealt with hard-heartedly. 

Weeks later I asked her to come to lunch with me. 

"Which dessert shall I have, jello or gingerbread?" I 
inquired, knowing her favorite dishes. 

"Jello/* was the prompt reply, "and when I'm sick 
again you can bring me gingerbread." 

My mind flashed back. I had brought her gingerbread 
during the first days of convalescence. Gingerbread ac- 
cordingly had linked itself with illness in Sally Ann's 
scheme of things. And gingerbread stood for satisfactions 
to be gained through illness. I thought quickly. Here was 
danger that the child might grow to think of illness as a 
state greatly to be desired. Something must be done to 
break up the association. 

"Gingerbread when you're sick, Sally Ann! No indeed. 
Sick people mustn't have gingerbread. They have to have 
medicine and broths and whatever the doctor says will make 
them well. Don't you remember ? I didn't bring you gin- 
gerbread until the doctor said you were well again." 

"O.K.," accepted Sally amiably, and there was no fur- 


ther mention of illness and its perquisites. Later, on being 
told the incident, Sally Ann's mother exclaimed, "I'm 
glad you headed her off. She said to the children with 
whom she was playing yesterday, 'I have to be IT because 
I'm the one who was sick.' So we'll all have to keep on 
our toes to make her think of sickness as unpleasant 
enough to be avoided. Wouldn't it be dreadful if our jolly 
little Sal became one of those whiney hypochondriacs like 
Mrs. Carver, whose only joy in life is working up some 
new ailment to talk about!" 

Soon after, the opportunity came. After a Saturday and 
Sunday at home, nursery school on Monday morning had 
lost all attraction. 

"I don't feel well, mommie. My throat hurts." 

Mother looked and saw nothing. The little body was 

"Of course, if you feel sick, Sally Ann, you must stay in 
bed quietly. I'll bring you a glass of orange juice and pull 
down the blinds and you can have a nice, long rest." 

Mother kept her word. No one came into the darkened 
room. At noon mother brought another glass of orange 
juice and slipped away. "Oh, no, you can't sit up and play, 
Sally Ann. Sick people lie quietly in bed." 

I came in later and the mother told me what was going 
on. "But you needn't know anything. Go in as if you'd 
just come and see what she says." 

Soon I came back laughing. "I'm a messenger. Sally 
Ann says she feels all well now, and would like to get up 
and play." 


"Tell her she can at supper time, and have her supper 
with Jimmie." 

Next morning the mother telephoned me. "Sally Ann 
is back at school. She had dressed herself entirely and was 
struggling with the hair-brush when I went in to call her. 
As she kissed me good-by she said, 'It's much more fun 
to go to school.' " 

For the next two years there were no illnesses beyond 
the beginnings of colds which promptly succumbed to 
staying in bed for twenty-four hours, with school again 
next day. But when Sally Ann was seven there came an 
extraordinary series of upsets which were a definite trial 
of her ability to throw off the effects of illness. 

First came measles, then chicken pox, then an awkward 
step and a fall that gashed her lip. She sat still in the chair 
and let the doctor take the necessary three stitches with 
only a local anaesthetic. Soon after came Fourth of July. 
The father brought home a few fireworks which he set 
off for the children. Then he gave each three torpedoes 
recommended as a specially safe brand. These they threw 
just as father told them, father standing beside them. It 
was great fun, until — Sally Ann's last one bounced back 
from the walk and exploded in her face. 

Mother was upstairs, and rushed down as she heard the 
screaming. Sally Ann was stumbling towards her, her face, 
from the hairline, one stream of blood. Her father and 
terror-stricken Jimmie tore after her. "Quick, the doctor! 
Telephone!" said mother, and rushed the little girl into 


the bathroom, where a rapid but gentle washing showed 
the eyes unhurt, and the blood streaming from a large, 
jagged circle in the forehead. The doctor was there in a 
few minutes. 

"I'm giving her anti-tetanus at once," he said, "which 
means no anaesthetic while sewing up the wound. You'll 
both have to hold her." Then they went back to Sally 
Ann, who had stopped screaming and seemed completely 
self-possessed. "Hullo, Dr. Evams," she said, "I suppose 
you're going to sew it up." 

"Sure," he answered in the same matter-of-fact tone. 

"You just hold my head, daddy, and I'll be very still," 
she said, climbing up on the dining room table, spread 
with a clean sheet. Then she lay relaxed and did not utter 
a sound until the last of the five stitches had been taken. 
One tiny cry and she sat up. 

"Isn't it time to go to the train, mommie? You said I 
could go to meet auntie." 

"Wait by the car, dear," said the mother. Then she 
turned inquiringly to the doctor as the child ran out. 

"Anything to keep her mind of? what's happened. 
She's a brick. Tomorrow and for the next two days keep 
her in or on her bed. There may be some reaction to the 
anti-tetanus," he said. 

For a while nothing more happened. The wound healed 
rapidly. About three weeks later mother heard Sally Ann 
padding about one night in the bathroom. "What's the 
matter?" she called. 

"I'm just vomiting a little," cheerfully answered Sally 


Ann. As an afterthought she said something about a pain 
in her side. "It's like the stomach-ache I've had lots of 

Her mother realized that the child was being entirely 
too stoical and explained that she always wanted to know 
about aches. Meanwhile she sent for the doctor. 

It was appendicitis. 

"No need to operate immediately," said the doctor, "but 
if the symptoms recur do not waste any time. Meanwhile, 
don't stop her from any of her usual activities. Let her run 
and dance and swim. Just watch for anything unusual, as 
anything might be a symptom." 

The next recurrence was a year later. The operation was 
performed. When Jimmie was allowed in to see her, he 
stood frozen for a moment in the strange hospital room, 
looking at his sister on the bed. 

"It doesn't look like Sally Ann. It doesn't look like Sally 
Ann," he murmured; then, as she called to him weakly, 
he added, "but it is Sally Ann," and tiptoed over and 
kissed her hand. 

I was on the other side of the bed. 

"I'm in luck," she told me as I left. "It's vacation and I 
won't have to miss any school." 


Jerry's mother, too, cured her six-year-old son of what 
might have become a habit of using illness as an alibi. 
"That tired feeling, mother. No, nothing hurts, just that 


tired feeling," he complained on Monday morning just 
before time to start to school. 

She kept him home the first time, but the second, again 
on a Monday morning, made her thoughtful. He had just 
started school and he liked the big group of children. But 
the rules to sit still and not to chatter with the others were 
a heavy weight, after the freedom of Saturday and Sun- 
day. Besides those unchildlike words, "that tired feeling" 
had a familiar sound. Hadn't she made the same com- 
plaint to her husband ? Jerry must have heard. 

"As long as you don't feel well you must stay in bed, 
of course, and I'll give you a dose of castor-oil." 

Jerry knew nothing about castor-oil. He nodded cheer- 
fully. Mother ran to the drug-store and asked for the good 
old-fashioned kind. 

"Castor-oil will cure that tired feeling," said mother. 

And it did. There were no more complaints on Monday 


Howard, a fourteen-year-old High School freshman, 
was sent to me by the principal because he kept demand- 
ing to see the school nurse. Physical examination had 
shown nothing wrong. 

As he talked with me I realized that here was the only 
child of a widow, suddenly shifted from the complete au- 
thority and supervision of grammar school to the quite 
different atmosphere of High School. He was not pre- 


pared for the responsibility that being a High-Schooler 
entailed. The sudden shift was too much. He was over- 
whelmed, and at first it made him really sick, he said. He 
was sent home. So he got sick often. Fortunately for him, 
his teachers began to put two and two together. 

The boy was intelligent. One talk was all he needed. I 
showed him that he was trying to remain a little child 
who let others tell him what to do, while his body and his 
brain were getting too near toward manhood for that. 

"High School isn't just for learning out of books and 
labs," I explained. "The biggest thing it does is help the 
boys and girls in their teens to stand on their own feet and 
to take responsibility for themselves. It helps you to grow 
up. It's paying you a compliment, because it is really say- 
ing that you no longer need to be told what to do in every 

"That's interesting. I hadn't thought of that before. But 
I do worry sometimes about whether I can make good. 
I'm all my mother's got. She expects a lot of me." 

"And when you're sick she doesn't expect so much. 
Isn't that true?" 

He blushed. "How did you know?" 

"Do you dream sometimes?" 

"Oh yes, every night. Sometimes I wake up with my 
heart thumping." 

"Can you remember one of your dreams?" 

"I have one that comes pretty often. I'm running and a 
big man with a huge black beard is trying to catch me. 
The last time I had it I seemed to be a very small child, 


and I called out, 'Don't catch up with me!' so loud I 
woke myself up." 

"Do you know where you were running?" 

"Home to mother, of course." 

"That's an interesting dream, Howard, because it is tell- 
ing you something. It keeps saying, each time you have it, 
'Don't let grown-upness catch up to you. Stay a little child 
whom mother can protect.' Do you see what I mean?" 

He looked up grinning. "Say, that's a good one. Sure I 
see. I've been running home to mother all my life. Time 
I stopped it. Thanks awfully," and out he went. 

There are few child hypochondriacs. In children the 
habit of getting what they want by illnesses is usually not 
deeply rooted. It is easy to break up. 

Seven of the eight children told of in this chapter 
changed their illness technique after one explanation of 
what they really were doing, or one experience with an 
adult whom they could not successfully browbeat. Even 
fourteen-year-old Howard needed nothing more. In Elmer 
the habit of regarding himself as weak and therefore help- 
less had been instilled from birth. He is the only child in 
the group who could rightly be called a little hypochon- 
driac, and even he responded so quickly that again it 
seemed a miracle. 

The fact that they give up the illness technique does not 
mean that they invariably stop alibi-ing. Frequently they 
turn from one means to another to get their way before 
they can become convinced such tactics are useless. Mar- 


garet, Paul and Elizabeth are examples of this, together 
with several of the children in succeeding chapters. 


Elmer was brandishing over the heads of all members 
of the household the weapons his mother had uncon- 
sciously put into his hands. Young, inexperienced and 
anxious, she had been told once by a physician to keep her 
baby on the bed and off his feet because of a slight hernia 
and flat feet. This man evidently did not know that all in- 
fants have flat feet. 

At five Elmer was still wheeled in a carriage for his 
daily exercise and the nurse was strictly warned, in front 
of the child, not to let him be on his feet in the park, lest 
he hurt the arches, get hot and then catch cold and de- 
velop pneumonia. He might, however, be allowed to sit 
on a park bench if he got restless. Since Elmer's ears were 
good and his intelligence keen, none of the implications 
and suggestions was missed. 

Besides, he had heard all his little life, the anxious ques- 
tionings, "How do you feel?" "Aren't you a little hot?" 
"Are you sure you're not too tired?" So the young man, 
after leaving his mother, with full realization of his privi- 
leges, would threaten the nurse if she did not do what he 

"I'll get ofT this bench and run up that hill and then you 
know what'll happen! I'll get hot and then I'll get sick 
and die and it'll be all your fault." Or, "Take my coat oft 


for me. I'm getting hot trying to do it myself, and then 
I'll get pneumonia and die. Mother says so." 

I came into the picture because of a crisis in the family. 
The father was away. There were whispers of a probable 
divorce. The mother, worn out with her responsibilities, 
had gone away for a few weeks' rest, and her mother had 
come to take charge of the child. Solicitous grandma 
hovered over Elmer anticipating, she thought, his every 
want. But suddenly "he went crazy and threatened me 
with a knife. So I called the doctor, and he said to call 

The nurse was gone. She left without notice when El- 
mer began to brandish the knife. I had my plan, for the 
doctor, a new man on the case, had told me what he knew 
of the situation. "Physically normal, spoiled child and 
over-anxious mother. Perhaps marital strain. The boy felt 
his oats with the mother gone and scared grandma into 
fits," was his diagnosis. 

It happened to be my vacation. I could devote consider- 
able time to Elmer, if necessary, so I arranged with his 
grandmother that I should arrive after his one-o'clock nap, 
take him out and get him to bed that night, and that pos- 
sibly I would continue the same program through the 
next few days. 

"Hullo, are you my new nurse?" he asked me when I 
came in. Grandma did not appear, according to plan. 

"No, I'm a doctor, but a different kind of doctor from 
Dr. Hill," I answered. "I came to take you to play in the 


He sized me up. "O.K. Where's the carriage?" 

"Carriage? What for? We're going to walk." 

"Mama says I can't walk. It'll hurt my feet. They're 
awful weak." 

"Mama wants you to do what the doctor says. Dr. Hill 
says you can walk and I say you can walk, because now 
you are big and your arches are strong." 

"Come on, then, quick!" 

The joy of that afternoon! Elmer, unaware that I was 
watching to see that he did not overdo on his first day of 
liberty, frisked like a joyous lamb. He climaxed the series 
of unbelievable exploits by climbing a grassy slope and 
sliding down the smooth rock on the other side. It was a 
tiny slope, only a foot or two long, but it was a revelation. 
When it was time to go home his beautiful trousers were 
worn clear through! 

Once at home, with grandma still out of sight, I gave 
him the light supper that had been prepared for him, and 
started him to bed. Suddenly he remembered his role, for- 
gotten all the afternoon. 

"You get out of here. I'll tell on you, making me run 
and climb! Grandma, grandma, come help me!" Grandma 
came running at this, but I spoke through the closed door. 

"Don't worry. It will be all right. We had a grand time 
this afternoon." 

"All right, if you say so," answered the worried voice 
from behind the door. 

Elmer proceeded to show me his complete repertoire. 
He threw chairs, he jeered, he threatened to get sick and 


die. I sat and pretended to read, occasionally saying softly, 
"When you're in bed I'll read to you till I have to go, or 
tell you a story." 

"Aren't you scared of me ? I'm a big giant. I'll eat you 
up! I'll kill you!" 

He got no response. I turned a page without looking up. 

He tried again. Still no response. 

Suddenly I heard a rustle and a murmur, "Guess I 
might as well be good." Then a triumphant shout, "Look 
at me! I'm in bed. Come and tell me that story!" 

"Fine. Do you know the story of Robinson Crusoe ? It's 
a long one. If I don't finish it tonight I'll tell you the rest 

Elmer was a good listener. He liked the story and I was 
careful not to finish it. 

"Now I must go," I said. "Good night." 

Up came two arms, which half strangled me as I bent 
over him. Then I went out to grandma, listening anxiously 
around the corner of the hall. 

I told her about the day's experiences, explained that the 
boy was perfectly well and able to take a normal boy's 
exercise. And that even though it meant mending trou- 
sers, the exercise had made Elmer's cheeks glow and 
caused every morsel to disappear on his supper plate. I 
told her how funny it was to see Elmer suddenly remem- 
ber that he must live up to his reputation as boss of the 
household, and how he had given in generously and com- 
pletely when he found he didn't frighten me by his threat 
of getting sick. 


"It's quite natural for him to have been spoiled under 
the circumstances," I went on, "but now that you are as- 
sured that he is strong you can treat him differently. You 
and your daughter want him, of course, to be a hearty, 
wholesome boy, and he can easily be one. He is a keenly 
intelligent child, and if he sees that you are not worried 
about his getting sick or overdoing, he'll stop using threats 
of sickness. Even if you are anxious, don't let him know 
it. But there is no need for anxiety. He's in fine shape." 

I couldn't speak to her fully. It would have been too 
painful. They had actually been teaching him to be sick 
and to remain a baby. It was a fortunate chance that the 
grandmother, naturally the more difficult of the two to 
change, was the first convert to the new point of view. 

I shall not forget the mother's happiness when she re- 
turned to a hearty little son. I have seen her several times 
in the three years since. She tells me the boy is distinguish- 
ing himself at school and is a pleasure to everyone. 


Ned's mother, a sweet-faced woman in black, handed 
me a note from her physician that read abruptly: 

"This child, seven years old, father dead two years, an 
only child, is perfectly sound organically, so far as I can 
see, but complains continually of aches and pains. See 
what you can do for him and let me know. I'll be inter- 

The mother gave me the usual story of an anxious 


mother of one ewe lamb made the more precious by being 
all she had left. Then while she read in another room I 
called in Ned. He began chattering at once, giving me 
this important information: 

"Did my mother tell you what my trouble is ? It's imagi- 
nary illnesses. I've got lots of 'em. I guess you never knew 
anybody before who had imaginary illnesses!" 

Here was my cue. 

"Oh yes, indeed," I answered casually, "anybody can 
have them. Do you know what imaginary illnesses are?" 

No, when it came down to it he didn't. 

"Well, imaginary means something that isn't really real. 
You think it is real sometimes, but it is only in your mind. 
At night when you're in bed you can pretend you're talk- 
ing with one of your friends, and say everything you'd 
like to say, and it will seem real, but it is only in your 
mind. You see ? Well, that is the way with imaginary ill- 
nesses. You can think about them till they seem real. The 
good thing about them is that you can get rid of them by 
thinking, too. You just think that they aren't there." 

Ned looked puzzled and doubtful. I went on. 

"I know because they've happened to me. Once I read a 
book that told about all sorts of sicknesses and as I read 
I could feel myself getting each one of them, and then 
when I stopped thinking about them, I felt all right." 

"Gee, that's just the way I feel. Do you think I can stop 
it like that, too?" 

"Of course you can," and to the amazement of everyone, 
that was all there was to it. He told his mother he under- 


stood now what imaginary illnesses were and that he 
didn't have to have them. He actually stopped at once all 
his fussing and complaining. 

In his case the satisfaction of getting attention and sym- 
pathy from his mother was apparently not the real spur 
to his attempts at invalidism. There had always been a 
number of grown-up complaining invalids in the family 
and by imitating them he thought he was behaving like a 
grown-up. When for the first time he met an adult whom 
he respected who had other ideas about health, he promptly 
accepted the new model. 


Ten-year-old Warren was knocked down by an auto- 
mobile as he was crossing the street. His parents instituted 
a claim for injuries, so large that it was contested. The boy 
had not been seriously hurt, but he did not get better. 
Though no longer confined to bed, he had become quar- 
relsome, querulous and irresponsible. 

All this the parents laid to the accident. Their claim 
was pending, but meanwhile their physician suggested 
they come to the Guidance Clinic for psychological advice. 

The boy began to talk about himself, the accident, his 
parents and his life in general. It was clear that he was in his 
glory as hero and martyr. The moment we were not all 
looking at him, his animation faded. 

As a result the following conversation with his parents 
took place: 


"Which do you want most, the money you may get from 
this claim, or the happy boy you had before the accident ?" 

"Our boy, of course," was their answer. 

"Then drop the claim and all talk of it. You'll see that 
the boy will improve at once. I found in my talk with him 
that all he thinks about is the accident and how interesting 
and important it is making him. When he finds that you 
do not think it is important enough to bother about, he 
will change his attitude at once." 

He did. 


Dicky's mother hated to see her baby grow up and start 
school. She had never let him go to nursery school or kin- 
dergarten, because the time would come soon enough, she 
said, when he would have to be away from her and she 
didn't want to miss a moment of his babyhood. 

She had tried to prepare him for the "ordeal" of starting 
school and had been emotional about his "leaving her to 
go out into the big world." The result was that he became 
emotional, too, and on the morning that school opened, 
just after his sixth birthday, they both cried during break- 
fast. Emotion upsets digestion, so Dicky vomited as they 
neared the school. 

His mother hurried him home, rejoicing secretly at the 
reprieve. Next day the same thing happened, and the 
next. Dicky never got farther than within sight of the 
school steps. 

His mother decided that he was too delicate to start yet, 


and Dicky was triumphant in his knowledge of how to 
bind his mother more securely to his will. Thereafter he 
used his power on all occasions when things were not go- 
ing precisely to his liking. 

The following year she realized he must go to school. 
He was too much surrounded by adults, and her husband 
was insisting on her stopping molly-coddling the boy. 
Dicky was lanky, saucy and no longer her curly-headed 
baby. She was not so emotional about him now. But Dicky 
had not forgotten his power. No sooner had the front 
door of their house closed behind them on the first day 
of school than Dicky wailed, "I'm going to spit up again!" 
and did so. She started solicitously, then caught a sidelong 
glance from her son, a cool, calculating glance. 

"You're playing tricks on me, you naughty boy!" she ex- 
claimed. "Now listen to me. You'll put on a clean suit, 
and start right back to school. And if you throw up on 
that one, you'll put on another but to school you go." 

She did not have her own mop of curly red hair for 

Dicky, again appraising her with that cool, calculating 
glance, decided she meant business. This time and there- 
after he successfully made the journey to school. 


John's experience was somewhat different. He met his 
Waterloo on his first day at nursery school. He had parted 
happily from his mother, eager to explore the new and 


fascinating surroundings. For a few moments he ran 
about, looking at everything and everybody. Then his 
eyes lighted on a small boy with a wheelbarrow full of 
blocks. He shoved the boy aside as if he were a stick of 
wood and proceeded to trundle the wheelbarrow himself. 

"Get out of my way! Choo-choo, I'm an engine. Don't 
you see me coming!" he shouted, but at the words a big 
teacher blocked his path and said to him surprisingly, 
"Tommy was playing with that, so it's his till he's through 
with it. There are lots of other toys for you on the shelf." 

"But I need the wagon. I need it for a train. Don't you 
see I'm an engine! Choo-choo! Get out of my way!" But 
his path remained blocked. 

"After Tommy is through with it you may have it. 
Come, let's bring it back to Tommy. You wheel it." 

John's eyes blazed. This was not the way to treat him. 
However, he knew an infallible receipt for getting what 
he wanted. 

"I'll vomit if you don't let me have it," he threatened. 

"Go ahead," answered the teacher. "See that cupboard ? 
When you get through vomiting you'll find pails and 
mops there, so you can clean up the mess." 

"But aren't you going to let me have what I want when 
I say I'll vomit?" exclaimed the astonished child. "My 
mama always does!" 

"Here we don't," said the teacher. The child looked at 
her for a second, then walked quietly away and chose 
another toy from the shelves. 


In the months that followed there was no further threat 
of vomiting. 

Mother and teacher had a quiet conference. "He does 
do that," confessed his mother. "I didn't say anything 
about it to you in starting him in school because I hoped 
he would be so interested here he wouldn't get upset. I 
could fight tantrums or defiance, but a delicate stomach 
like that! I've never dared risk crossing him." 

"Now that you see he's survived this experience with- 
out vomiting, you won't need to be alarmed. He's only 
threatening you. I've known several children who had the 
trick of vomiting to force people to give them what they 
wanted. There's no unpleasant taste, as there's no spoiled 
stomach, and besides, they know that generally the mere 
threat is enough." 

"But isn't vomiting one of the signs of developing ill- 
ness, just as a fever is?" 

"Sometimes, but not when you look into the circum- 
stances and see the child is avoiding a difficulty or getting 
a longed-for pleasure through vomiting. He knows you 
see through tantrums, so he is too wise to use those. You 
are afraid of his vomiting, so your canny young man pro- 
ceeds to exploit your fear. Now, just for a moment, let us 
look at the possible consequences to his life and happiness 
if he continued to use these tactics. As he enters a wider 
world, and that may be school, or his first job, or his mar- 
riage, he will naturally expect the same treatment that he 
gets from you. How is he going to act when he finds that 


this outside world doesn't coddle him as you do ? Wouldn't 
it be logical to expect him to revert to bodily weakness of 
some sort when he encounters a difficulty, relying on his 
previous successes with you? For these successes have 
taught him the firm belief that the world owes him any- 
thing he wants. If he is denied what he considers his due, 
his use of bodily weakness is, he thinks, a two-edged 
sword. One edge would force his will. The other would 
punish the cruel world for refusing him." 

"I'm following you closely. I'm much impressed, I as- 
sure you. But you use the word 'punish.' Just what do 
you mean?" 

"Isn't he punishing you by being sick or threatening to 
be sick when you try to discipline him ? Each child has his 
own special way of punishing those who do what he 
doesn't like. It's a habit which takes firm root and grows. 
The younger children are, the shorter the roots and the 
easier it is to change the habit. That is one of the best ar- 
guments for nursery schools. John, for instance, is now in 
a world where children and teachers will not be frightened 
by his weapons and, sensible little chap that he has shown 
himself to be, he's already learned that he has a better 
time when he is not running counter to the group. He 
may try the old method a time or two more, but I hardly 
think so." 

John's mother was an intelligent woman. More than 
that, she was a reasonable one, and courageous enough to 
face herself and see that she had been making a mistake. 
With her, to see her mistake was not enough. She pro- 


ceeded straightway to change herself. John found, to his 
surprise on returning home, that his precious weapon was 
hopelessly blunted, and that he was much more apt to get 
his wishes fulfilled when he was pleasant and obliging. 

Timely help had, in all probability, prevented a little 
hypochondriac from becoming a permanent, self-made 


Lost in the Crowd 


Otanley was eight and he looked like a shivering white 
rat, with his red-rimmed eyes in a long, thin, white face. 
He was utterly pathetic as he stood huddled in the hall 
on his arrival at the Children's House, to be cured of in- 
cessant running away. 



His parents could make no explanation. None of the 
children had ever given trouble before. There were nine 
of them, four younger than Stanley. Stanley was never 
naughty. He merely took to disappearing, and nothing 
could stop him. 

During the first few days at the Children's House, he 
ran away just as determinedly. Nothing was going to 
hold him. 

I had talked with him during his test and afterward. 
He didn't say much. Words were difficult for him. All he 
could talk about was his home. I got an impression of 
how full it was with its many children. His mother was 
always busy, he murmured. 

Few and inadequate as his responses were, I began to 
understand the longing in his eyes and tones and in his 
half -spoken words. I realized that, absurd as it sounds, he 
had run away from his home because he loved it too much 
to stay there. 

He was running away from a home where he was lost 
in the crowd. He loved it and hated it at the same time 
because it did not give him what he demanded of it. 

"Do you think if your father and mother did not love 
you, they would care when you ran away?" I asked. 

He brightened. "Did they ?" 

"Of course they did. They cared a great deal." 

"Then I'm going back." 

But before Stanley would be ready to go back into the 
crowd of his own family, he had to learn how to stand on 
his own feet. So I said, 


"Later on you can go back. Your father and mother 
want you to stay here a while. This is a place where chil- 
dren learn to be big." 

Then I showed him a way to watch how big he was 
growing. I handed him a sheet of paper ruled with twenty- 
eight squares, seven across, and with a broad space at the top. 

"This is your star chart. See, I'll write your name on top. 
Every day that you do not run away, you put a pencil 
mark in a square. And every week you bring me the 
paper and I'll put a gold star like this," — pasting it on the 
corner of the sheet — "in each square that's marked. When 
you have a lot of stars in rows you'll know you are grow- 
ing big enough to go home and stay home. What shall 
I write for you here, under your name, to show what the 
stars mean?" 

"Write, 'I did not run away today,' " said the child. 

He took the star chart upstairs with him, but next day 
he was gone. Again and again he started off, although he 
never got far. Each time he was brought back he looked 
whiter and more than ever like a frightened white rat. 

I realized Stanley must feel lost in this crowd of school 
children, too, and that he needed what he had never had 
— a special friend. 

So I arranged for him to come into my office every day 
so that we could have a little chat and play together and 
I could give him the gold star to paste on each day, instead 
of waiting till the end of the week. 

I remarked that each star meant that he had been a 
brave boy who had not tried to run away from things. He 


seemed to understand what running away from things 

He was running back to his father and mother, he in- 
sisted. Then I showed him that by earning the stars he 
was earning his way back home. 

"And when you've filled a sheet with beautiful gold 
stars without a single break, would you like to frame it for 
a present to your mother?" I asked. 

This appealed to him. He came eagerly to my office 
each evening. Soon he began to lose the rat-like look and 
to become a rather attractive little chap, still timid and 
appealing, but no longer furtive. 

My haunting memory of him is of his clinging to my 
friendship as if it were a life-line. 

Meanwhile we had tried to help his parents to under- 
stand his need. The mother had always been too busy to 
stop for endearments. None of the other children had 
needed them and she had not noticed that one of her flock 
was more sensitive and demonstrative than the others. 

We told the parents of the child's wistful affection for 
them and how, though he had run away because he be- 
lieved that there was no place in the home for him, he 
could not stand the separation and had tried again and 
again to run back to them. This touched them deeply. 

"To think it all happened because he loved us, and here 
we were so taken up with business and house that we 
never knew him at all! From now on we will take time 
for all the children, especially Stanley, since he seems to 
need it the most." 


Their whole attitude was changed. They saw then that 
the suggestions we had made of giving him a pat or a 
kiss in passing, or an extra big hug when his parents said 
goodnight, would not increase the burden of the busy 
parents, but would definitely lighten it, as the anxiety 
about him and the time spent on hunting for him really 
lessened. The suggestions, too, were apt to carry over to 
the other children. The older ones could understand why 
Stanley had run away, and they, too, could make him feel 
more one of them. 

Stanley did win his way back home, with a fuller ap- 
preciation of what he could give to his family instead of 
expecting them to give him everything. He settled down 

There is a danger-point to come later when Stanley 
reaches the next weaning period, and takes a job. He must 
learn then to be independent of his parents. If they have 
gone to the other extreme and have given him too much 
attention, he may be as greatly hindered in a well-balanced 
development as if they had continued in their old ways 
and given too little. Stanley's parents are not likely to 
have too much time to give him. But they must change the 
kind of interest they show in him as he grows older. 
Growing up must shift a child's dependence on his par- 
ents to a friendly give-and-take companionship on an 
adult level. 

Stanley helps us to understand the misery of a child lost, 
as so many are, in a crowd. Otherwise his story might 


have been told among those of the children who ran away 
from different kinds of intolerable situations. Stanley 
could not bear to be overlooked by those he loved. In this 
he is like every other child in the world. 

It is true that he eagerly accepted my statement when 
he first came, that his parents must love him or they would 
not feel so anxious when he ran away. Yet consciously, or 
unconsciously, he must have had a thrill each time he was 
caught and brought back. He had created a stir, he, Stan- 
ley, the forgotten and passed-over; also he must be valu- 
able to his parents for them to try so hard to find him. 

Thus each running away was another needed proof to 
him that he was worth while. Yet until he learned, at the 
Children's House, to face a difficulty squarely, he was 
never thoroughly convinced. Here again he is like many a 
child and many a grown-up, who is so afraid that he is 
really weak and inferior that he keeps putting himself to 
the proof. 


"Come see what I've got waiting for you! Dr. Martin 
can't be here today, but he wants you to go ahead with the 
psychological examination. She's an inveterate bed-wetter 
and a dumb-bell if ever I've seen one. Family says so too." 
This from the usually sympathetic and optimistic home- 
visitor, Miss Thomas, who was waiting for me in the hall. 

I looked into the playroom of the Guidance Clinic for 
a moment or two before I entered. A huddled lump that 
was seven-year-old Alta blocked one of the windows. Her 


eyes were fixed on the floor; not a flicker of interest in all 
her heavily seated body, though the room was lively with 
youngsters. Dully obedient, she rose at call and shuffled 
across the room to the door, eyes still on the floor, chin 
on chest. 

An hour and a half later a pink and white bouncing 
ball came hopping out of the office, clinging to my hand, 
bright blue eyes upturned and dancing voice babbling 

Miss Thomas, who had visited the family and had been 
so anxious to hear the results of the psychological exami- 
nation, gasped. Surely this was not the same child! Just 
then a spare, determined little figure rose from a chair in 
the corner of the playroom, made a bee-line for Alta, 
seized her free hand, and announced in a businesslike 
tone, "I've come for Alta. I'm her sister Lena. Come 
along, Alta, I'm in a hurry." Or? she started for the outer 
door, dragging Alta after her. Meanwhile, at sight of 
Lena, devastation had fallen upon Alta. The happy, vi- 
brant body slumped again. The lifted, flowerlike face was 
sunk upon the chest. The dancing feet dragged. 

"Who'd have believed it!" exclaimed Miss Thomas. 
"What did you do to that child ? And what did Lena do ? 
Yet Lena's not a bad sort. She's her mother's right hand. 
Takes care of the little ones while the mother does the 
housekeeping for the raft of children and the husband." 

"I haven't seen your notes on the family. Give me a 
general idea," I asked. "I got something from Alta, of 


"They are really good, hearty people, living in an old- 
fashioned comfortable apartment in a somewhat rundown 
neighborhood. Six children, with the oldest girl holding 
down a fairly good job. She gives her mother most of her 
wages. The oldest boy, next to her is nineteen, just be- 
ginning to feel his oats and to rebel at being expected to 
bring home his pay envelope and account for his comings 
and goings. The mother is worried about him. Lena is 
thirteen, in the seventh grade, takes care of the younger 
children. Mother calls her 'fresh' but relies on her. The 
only other boy in the family is Jaffrey, nine years old. He 
ought to be coming here too. He has night-terrors and 
wakes up the whole house. No trouble daytimes, his mother 
says; is very quiet. All of the children have done well 
enough at school. Then come Alta, seven, and the baby, 
Tessie, just turned four. Alta's the only stupid one of the 
crowd, the family says, and they say it right in front of 
her. She just sits with her head hanging, though she's up 
to grade in school. She has never been sick, but her bed's 
wet every night and has been for two years. Mother's tried 
scolding and shaming and whipping, all to no avail. All 
the child says is, 'I was asleep. How could I help it?' " 

"Just what is Alta's school record?" 

"She's in the second grade, doing rather better than 
average work, according to the teacher. It seems she gets 
along well on the school grounds. At least, nothing has 
ever been heard to the contrary. The teacher likes her. 
Now tell me, how did you find her?" 

"All round good material. Quick, responsive; intelli- 


gence average but she's delicate somehow, fine. She hung 
over the pictures on the wall, fingered the silk of my dress, 
and spoke of its color. You'll agree with me she blooms 
out under appreciation." 
"Never saw the like. What do you make of it?" 
"It's too soon to be sure, but my guess is that besides 
being the dispossessed baby (she was the baby for over 
two years, you know, and must have been a pretty one, 
and smart) she's so much gentler than the rest that she's 
been unable to hold her own against them. The boy with 
night-terrors may be somewhat like her. The others are 
probably more assertive, more able to look after them- 
selves. The baby must be a great favorite. Alta's proud of 
her too, and is going to bring her over next week so I can 
see how she dances. But you notice that Alta's return to 
bed-wetting began when the baby was two, just old 
enough to begin to chatter and be a personality that would 
draw the family's attention away from the charms and ex- 
ploits of Miss Alta. The baby was still not dry (you know 
there's not much training done in that kind of helter- 
skelter family), especially at night, no doubt, and so got 
attention from the mother. Thus Alta had a proof before 
her eyes of the value of baby tricks. She was too gentle 
to fight directly for her lost kingdom by taking it out in 
naughtiness or cruelty to the usurper. So she seized on 
something that had not only brought her attention in her 
own babyhood, but was getting Tessie attention at the 
moment. She started wetting again, and her logic was 
good. She certainly has received the attention she set out 


to capture. Witness, here she is, a problem child. Now, 
what are your notes on Jaffrey?" 

"His night-terrors were especially bad when he was five 
and six. That puts them also at the time that Alta's wet- 
ting began." 

"Yes, she must have felt that the attention he was get- 
ting because of this was endangering her position too. So 
she was threatened on two sides. School, at all events, was 
not the difficult experience it is to so many sensitive chil- 
dren, according to what you told me. I gave her the usual 
talk and a star chart. We'll see how far she gets with no 
other effort on our part, until next week." 

"One other thing," said Miss Thomas. "Three years ago 
they all became irritated with an older daughter who has 
since died. They kept jumping on her all the time, Mrs. 
Delmer said, only to find she was fatally ill with diabetes 
and neuritis. The mother has never stopped reproaching 
herself. That makes her afraid to be too strict with Alta. 
But she is inconsistent. If she gets irritated she relapses 
into her old quick-tempered way with all the children. 
She scolds, raps them on the head, yanks them by the 
arm. She seems afraid of her husband, who is very impa- 
tient. She was friendly to me, and very anxious to get help 
for Alta." 

"What else do you know about the father and the gen- 
eral family relationship?" 

"I met Mr. Delmer. He had been home sick for sev- 
eral days. He has been spending his time playing cards 
and has lost enough money to worry him, especially as his 


compensation is not enough to make up for his weekly 
earnings. He owns the house they live in, but it is mort- 
gaged and it is difficult to meet the payments. He is a 
large, fair man, very cordial to me, a despot to the family. 
He likes the house to be quiet when he is at home. He 
would like Alta to be helped, but he made it plain that he 
would undertake no responsibility himself. 

"The rooms of the apartment are exceptionally large, 
light and airy. They were very well kept. There were 
plenty of toys and some books. In spite of the quarreling, 
I should say there was a strong family loyalty and affec- 

The next clinic visit was partly a repetition of the first. 
A determined, protective Lena appeared with an unre- 
sponsive Alta and cherubic, four-year-old Tessie in tow. 
Lena pushed Alta into the waiting-room, answered for 
her and very definitely assumed the brunt of the visit. As 
she had brought her two responsibilities along with her, 
she was not in such a hurry and I got more than the hasty 
glimpse of her that I had had the week before. Plain, dark 
and thin, she was a marked contrast to the dimpled fair- 
ness of the two little ones. Tessie looked much like Alta, 
but was more poised, friendly with the assurance of the 
petted baby. 

"Dance that new dance you learned at school, Alta, and 
taught Tessie," commanded Lena. 

Alta started to obey like an automaton, but the rhythm 
of the simple folk-dance soon carried her away and she 
and Tessie went through it charmingly. Alta glowed with 


the appreciation they received and Lena beamed in moth- 
erly satisfaction. 

For the next few moments Alta was closeted with the 

"Let's go to my room now," I said to her when she came 
out. Lena instantly gave her a vigorous shove toward the 
door. Head drooping, Alta dragged behind me. 

"I have your chart all ready, Alta. How many stars are 
we going to put on it this week? One?" 

Alta, who was looking a little upset, suddenly beamed 
as she shook her head. 

"You don't mean there won't be any!" 

The head shook emphatically and the dimples came. 

"You mean there will be more than one?" enthusiasti- 

A nod with another flash of dimples. 



"Three?" incredulously. 





A series of nods. 

So congratulations were in order. It was clear that the 
family expectations had been set for perfection and Alta 
made to feel that she had not done well. So she had to be 
shown that we appreciated any evidence of effort and im- 
provement on her part. Lena would have to be coached, 


too, how to interpret this to her mother and the rest of 
the family. 

"Let me have the piece of paper I gave you to mark the 
star-nights," I said. 

"I'll go get it. Lena has it." 

I added another mental note to what I must say pres- 
ently to Lena. Alta must be allowed to take her own re- 

Meanwhile Alta returned triumphantly with the bit 
of paper, grimy by this time, with five black crosses pen- 
ciled on it, three of them in succession for the three days 
immediately following the first visit. Her joy in putting 
stars in the proper spaces of the new star-chart with her 
name printed on it above the caption, "I HAD A DRY 
BED," was a pleasure to watch, but her collapse like a 
pricked balloon once back in Lena's presence was pathetic, 
well-meaning as the older girl really was. 

Lena's cooperation was obtained, though she was clearly 
doubtful as to the wisdom of letting Alta be responsible 
for the carrying to and fro of the precious weekly report. 
Alta had not been allowed to mark her own crosses either, 
the mornings that the bed was dry, but from now on it 
was stipulated that Lena would give her the pencil. And 
she would tell them at home that we had said that no one 
was to scold when the bed was wet, but everyone was to 
show pleasure when it was dry. 

This was all much easier said than done. Throughout 
the three years that Alta came to the clinic, there was con- 
stant difficulty in getting full cooperation from the home. 


Lena seemed sure that she was slighting her duty if she 
did not find fault and do some ordering. Her own self- 
respect apparently demanded this. That was her way of 
keeping her personality from getting lost in the crowd 
at home. In the playroom we grew to like her, in spite of 
longing at times to shake her out of her domineering, for 
she was kind-hearted, really fond of the children and 
never shirked her responsibilities. Indeed, she overdid 
them to the point of irritation. 

On the third visit, the trio appeared again, with a record 
of six stars. Lena seemed as proud as Alta and was much 
impressed at the "fuss" made over her sister. She remained 
in the background except when she was asked to join the 
chorus of admiration. Alta glowed with a new self-respect 
though Lena again produced the record. Her mother had 
been afraid Alta would lose it on the way. 

"Six dry nights! Splendid! Perhaps next week it will 
be all dry nights ! If it is, you'll earn an ice-cream cone for 
yourself and one for each of your two sisters." 

This suggestion was to serve a double purpose: — to let 
Alta see that she was able to do something for others as 
well as for herself through her own efforts, and to let 
Lena understand that there were times when she, the big 
sister, had to be dependent on little Alta. At the same 
time there was an underlying appeal to Lena to be par- 
ticularly encouraging to Alta in order to help her have 
the seven successive dry nights. 

The following week we could hardly control our im- 
patience until the trio hove in sight. We saw from afar 


that the ice-cream cones were to be a reality. There were 
great rejoicings, but alas, after this one perfect week, there 
were constant back-slidings ! It is a great sacrifice to ask 
of any child to give up the treasured techniques that he 
has learned always bring him the longed-for attention. 
Just as soon as the newness of dry nights had worn off, 
the family took to expecting them as a matter of course, 
and no attention was paid them. No one could blame Alta 
then if she felt that she was being penalized for her efforts 
to keep her bed dry. So she relapsed into the old habit 
which had always brought her into the limelight, even 
though the limelight meant scoldings or something more 
drastic. We tried to explain this to Lena at clinic and to 
the mother, but always in vain. 

Alta and her family were told that hereafter she must 
bring her own star-chart even if she did lose it. From this 
time on the appearance of the record was always a signal 
for many stars. The paper was forgotten or lost when 
there were too few dry nights. It was like a thermometer 
recording Alta's feeling of shame of guilt. She began to 
appear alone with Tessie, independent of Lena. Her chum 
often came with her, and the three played happily with 
the other children in the waiting-room. 

She remained gentle, lovable and dependable with us, 
but at home there was a new development. She was no 
longer spineless and "dumb," the mother told Miss 
Thomas one day when she called at the house. She re- 
fused point blank to follow our plan of no liquids after 
five o'clock. She complained that she was thirsty and in- 


sisted on drinking two glasses of water at dinner and two 
more just before going to bed. 

She was always refused at first, but then she would "set 
up such a howl" that her father insisted it be given her to 
quiet her. When her mother tried to get her up at eleven 
or twelve so that the bed should be dry, she would fling 
herself to the floor, kicking and shrieking so that she 
awakened everyone. The tenants complained. Her father 
ordered her mother and sisters to let her alone. 

Alta, fully aware of the advantage she now held, started 
utilizing the new technique to get her own way in other 
things, for she knew her mother would do anything to 
have peace when her father was at home. Therefore she 
would frequently start a tantrum just before he was due 
for dinner. 

"Alta says that if we try to make her get up at night she 
will wet still more," interposed Lena. 

At this stage of the recital Alta, who could not be gotten 
out of the room, fell upon the tattler Lena, pounding her 
with both fists. But when her mother opened the bedroom 
door and showed the visitor the wet bed, still open to dry 
in the middle of the afternoon, the child ran and hid in 
another room. 

On the next visit to us she was told she was not playing 
fair with the family at home, and that nearly eight years 
old didn't act like three. To give a positive note to the 
conversation, she was promised as many invitations to a 
party we were giving for all the children who came on 
the weekly clinic visits as she had full weeks of stars. 


When the party day arrived, Lena and Tessie came as 
guests of another child who had been more cooperative. 
Alta lost her little independent air and stayed closely at 
Lena's side, without a vestige of initiative. 

During the second year she was not asked about the 
bed-wetting, but was called in for friendly visits with the 
clinic staff and encouraged to bring books in which she 
was interested and to read bits of them aloud to us. While 
she was doing this there was a slight improvement at 
home. Then came a change in our staff. Miss Thomas 
had to leave and a new home visitor took her place. Alta 
was introduced as one of the old friends who could be 
relied on for help. 

This was too much for her. She waited till Dr. Martin 
and I had left and then led a group into my office and 
began noisy games, threw ink and was rude and defiant 
when the home visitor tried to stop her. She did the same 
thing the following week and was even more defiant. She 
was perfectly sure she did not have to obey this newcomer. 
She did not take it seriously when told she could not come 
back for four weeks, and returned the following week. 
She was amazed when refused admission, and marched 
indignantly into my office. 

"That Miss Smith says we can't come here for a month. 
She isn't the boss. I don't have to mind her." 

"You're mistaken, Alta," I answered. "Whoever is in 
charge of the playroom is the boss. I have nothing to say 
about whom she lets in and whom she keeps out. If she 
said a month, then it will be a month." 


Exactly four weeks later, the old gentle Alta, accom- 
panied by an equally gentle little chum and the cherubic 
Tessie appeared and resumed their old places. 

A few months later, when there was another change of 
home visitor, the two tried their powers again. I reminded 
them of what had been the outcome previously, and they 
promptly took the hint. However, they asked, 

"Always, is whoever is in this room the boss?" thus 
betraying their real attitude toward authority, an attitude 
that is found in adults as well as in children often enough 
to strengthen many sociologists in the belief that the mass 
of human beings is as yet far from ready for real democ- 

In Alta, respect for authority was evidently based on 
fear, tinged with awe and a real affection for those by 
whom she was well treated. The moment that there was a 
shifting of the outward signs of the authority with which 
she was acquainted, she dropped into lawlessness. Her 
gentleness and submissiveness changed at once into leader- 
ship in anti-social activities. There was no real self-control 
or social responsibility to keep her law-abiding. In her 
home she was using the belief in herself she had gained 
in clinic anti-socially also, in her tantrums and refusals to 
abide by the household regulations. Naughty as this 
sounds and uncomfortable as it was for the family, it was 
a healthier outlet for the child herself than the crushed 
submissiveness she had shown before. At least, they all 
had to learn a certain respect for her and it was noted 
that there were no more remarks from home about her 


"dumbness." She was now a force to be reckoned with. 
That meant that she had taken her place in the family, 
even though she had had to fight for it and continue to 
make herself disagreeable to retain it. 

Out in the world, as a grown person, she may follow 
the same trend. If she finds herself in an environment she 
considers authoritative, she will be docile. The moment 
she thinks she sees authority weakening, she will be apt 
to try to take advantage. Many do this. All babies do. It is 
a sign of immaturity, showing that one is not really ready 
to take one's place in the world as a cooperative member 
of the group. 

It was interesting to remember that just before the first 
rebellion, while Miss Thomas was still there, she and I 
had started at the same moment to call each other's atten- 
tion to the change in Alta's face; — the disappearance of 
the baby expression and the new squareness of jaw she 
was developing. 

Alta is a loyal little soul. Affection and loyalty are part 
of her difficulty in shifting allegiance to a new source of 
authority. She never ceased her inquiries after Miss 
Thomas, and wrote her letters telling how lonesome she 
was for her. 

During the third year the older sister married. In the 
excitement of the preparation for this event, at which Alta 
was to be a bridesmaid, the wetting disappeared for four 
weeks, and the doll, long promised for four weeks of dry 
beds, was earned at last. With that achievement effort 
relaxed, wet beds appeared again about twice a week for 


a couple of months, and then, with no apparent cause, the 
entire difficulty ceased and did not return. 

In its place, however, came nail-biting, an entirely new 
development. A manicure for each finger that had a nail 
long enough soon straightened that out, but the fact that 
when one means of attention-getting stopped another had 
to be substituted, shows how deep is the need in any 
human heart to keep from sinking into insignificance. 
Alta's behavior difficulties call out to us as clearly as if 
they were words. 

"Don't over-look me! I won't let you over-look me! I'll 
use anything to force you to keep me in mind." 

Jaffrey, Alta's brother, was eleven before he would come 
in to see us. He was then in the sixth grade. He looked 
like Alta and seemed to have the same sensitivity and 
delicacy, so at variance with the family pattern. It had 
been very hard to pesrsuade him to come, partly because 
of shyness, partly because he was ashamed to admit the 
reason his parents wanted help for him. He shared a room 
with his older brother, and if his brother were not at 
home to go to bed with him, he was afraid to go to bed 
alone. He would slip over to the girls' room and crawl 
into bed with them, or lie whimpering and calling for 
his mother. 

He was ten years younger than his only brother, with 
Lena in between, so he was practically an only boy among 
girls. There was the attack of meningitis that caused his 
life to be despaired of for four days. He remained seriously 


ill for two months. He has always been "nervous" since, and 
developed night-terrors which were especially severe dur- 
ing the years when he was five and six. It may have been 
mere coincidence that baby Tessie was born at just this 
time, but it is more likely that these terrors came because 
his mother gave the baby the place in her room which 
had belonged to the sick little boy. When he found that 
his fright at being away from her brought him attention, 
fears became a habit. 

All this had brought him, until recently, more than his 
share of his mother's care. On the social side, he had not 
been affected by her solicitude. He had his share of the 
family responsibilities and did not shirk. He got on well 
with other boys and could play amicably with his little 

By the time he began coming to clinic he seemed so per- 
fectly well that his mother had outgrown her anxiety and 
whacked at him as she did the others when he "got fresh" 
or tracked in mud or snow. He would dive into his bed- 
room and lock the door till she forgot him, but he was 
afraid of his father. 

On account of his illness he did not start school until 
he was eight, but he had extra promotions and did well. 
He was fond of reading and though he made friends 
easily, he often lapsed into day-dreams, revealing that real 
life, as he was living it, was not altogether satisfying. 

The particular combination of inheritance of these two 
children had evidently started them out with more sensi- 
tive nervous systems than the others. They felt more keenly. 


Therefore they acted differently from the others. Acting 
differently they were differently treated. The longer this 
went on the greater the difference between them and the 
rest of the family would become. 

Why did not these two sensitive children, lost in the 
middle of the large, aggressive family, also behave alike ? 
Why did they differ from each other ? Jaffrey's method is 
much more socially acceptable than Alta's. Although his 
nervous system may have been much like hers to begin 
with, he was the second of two boys among four girls, 
almost an only boy by reason of the many years between 
him and his brother, and that is a much more favorable 
position than to be one of four girls. Furthermore, his 
illness brought him into prominence again, even when 
there were two younger children. With his position as 
youngest boy and his long invalidism, there was no need 
for him to go to the lengths his sister did to keep atten- 
tion focused on him. 

Jaffrey did not come regularly to the clinic. In fact, he 
appeared very seldom and friendly interest and suggestion 
were found to be the only means of reaching him. I felt 
that little progress was being made. The parents did not 
seem able to change their attitudes of alternate spoiling 
and severity, and the older children followed the parents' 

However, now that Alta has learned to assert herself, 
we are more troubled about her brother than about her. 
We would like to give him more courage to help him 
grow into independent manhood. 


Life is usually difficult for the day-dreaming, fearful 
person. Parents worry less about this quiet and "good" 
type, while the psychologist worries more. Jaffrey was 
really an older version of Paul in the story of Paul and 
Margaret. The problem is always to increase courage 
sufficiently to meet life. 




What's eating Arthur Lane? His work has taken a 

sudden slump. His behavior is becoming impossible. Now 

he's beginning to jerk as if he had St. Vitus's dance! 

"And see here," added the boarding-school principal, 



pointing to Arthur's report-card. "Till little over a month 
ago he was one of our honor boys. There is no explana- 
tion of the change in him! Yet there is a story behind it." 

I began to read the packet of letters which the principal 
had pulled from his file. They had been written by Arthur 
Lane's father and mother from one of our pleasantest 
suburbs, and their tone was warm-hearted and intelligent. 
Certainly Arthur had had a favorable home. 

But the outstanding effect of the letters was one of hurt 
bewilderment. For the story of Arthur's thirteen years 
of life before entering the school held a curious parallel to 
the story of his seven months in the school itself. 

He had started life so well. For twelve and a half years 
as a bright, obedient son he had given pleasure to all who 
knew hirn. And then suddenly, without any possible ex- 
cuse or reason, his character had completely changed. 

The first symptom was a strange hateful attitude in all 
he said and did. The climax was his parents' discovery 
that at the same time he had been stealing money from the 
neighbors' milk bottles. Yet when they faced him with 
the charge he showed not the slightest shame or re- 
pentance. Instead he defied them, and went right on steal- 
ing! In desperation they had sent him to a strict boarding 
school. It was clear that they felt overwhelmed. 

"The odd thing," remarked the principal, "is that al- 
though Mrs. Lane thought it important to be frank about 
the problem she was turning over to us, there never was 
any problem so far as we were concerned. Not till now, 
I mean. The boy is a natural leader. He got along with 


everyone. And everyone, boys and teachers, trusted him. 
Naturally, the one or two of us in the secret were watchful 
at first about money. That's easy where all the boys have 
the same small allowance. But that's never been his trouble 
here. It's just that he won't study and he won't even try 
to behave, and that punishment only makes him defiant. 
What's worrying us now is his physical condition. The 
doctor's report is 'possible chorea' with a question-mark." 

"Perhaps your own diagnosis is more exact, — some- 
thing's eating him," I answered. "I'll give him some tests 
as an excuse for trying to find what it is." 

I did not know Arthur Lane. For, busy elsewhere, I 
came to this school only as consultant on special problems. 
But already I suspected that the petty stealing, which was 
naturally uppermost in the parents' fear of a permanent 
flaw in their son's character, could be quite differently 
interpreted: — that it was one symptom along with other 
symptoms, of an underlying cause which had nothing to 
do with character. And that once we got at that cause we 
need never fear a return of dishonesty. 

The clue to that possible cause lay in my hand — a letter 
from Mrs. Lane. 

In the consulting-room I found a youngster in the lank 
stages of early adolescence, attractive in spite of his dejec- 
tion and hollow eyes. A friendly remark set him at his 
ease and he started cooperatively on the vocabulary test. 
Word after word he defined with a clearness that would 
have done credit to a college student. But as I drew out 


a couple of sheets of paper in preparation for the next 
test, Arthur looked embarrassed, hesitated, and then said, 
his voice trembling, 

"If there's any writing about this I'm afraid I'll do it 
badly. See how my arm shakes. I guess it's because I don't 
sleep much any more." 

I followed this lead and in a few minutes I was in the 
midst of an avalanche of words. 

His thoughts just wouldn't let him sleep. It kept com- 
ing over him, how terrible it all was. It had been bad 
enough at the beginning, but the last few weeks he hadn't 
been able to think of anything else, and between that and 
not sleeping and eating, everything had gone worse and 
worse. Before he was sent away to school he had found 
out a terrible thing. Here he stuck, a lump in his throat, 
speechless. I urged him on gently. 

"I went right home and asked my father and mother, 
when I found out from the other boys that I wasn't their 
own child, and they stuck to it I was. But the boys were 
sure because their mothers had said my mother had told 
them. So I began to see why I was always being picked 
on at home. If I'd been their own they wouldn't have 
picked on me for every little thing. It was because I was 
adopted ! 

"It kind of knocked me out and it made me mad, too, 
and I thought if they were going to pick on me because 
I didn't have anyone of my own to stand up for me, I'd 
have to stand up for myself, and then they got madder 
and madder. And they wouldn't let me have any money 


because they said nobody needed money in our little town 
except for food and clothes and those father paid for, but 
all the other boys had pocket money and I owed them 
treats, and early one morning in bed it came over me 
that I'd never ask my father and mother for anything 
again, but rustle some money for myself, and the picture 
of those milk bottles with the money in them came into 
my mind so hard that before I knew it I was up and sneak- 
ing the money out of them. I didn't seem to care if I was 
a thief or not. 

"After that every time I was jacked up for something 
at home I'd think about those milk bottles and early in 
the morning I'd go the rounds. Sometimes I'd feel ashamed 
but mostly I was just mad. Then it all came out and I got 
sent here and I was glad to get away from a place where 
I didn't belong. You know I didn't even think about my 
mother and father at first. Then my birthday came. That's 
when it all came over me. 

"It was my birthday and I didn't know who I was. All 
I knew was I knew who I wasn't. Nobody caring about 
me, an adopted child, picked on and kicked out, no place 
to go when I get through here. Everything got kind of 
black and I couldn't think and I couldn't sleep with all 
those things never letting me alone and worrying about 
what would happen after I finished school and . . . and 
I did like my mother and father!" he finished brokenly. 

"I think I understand, Arthur. A little bit, anyway. 
Thank you so much for telling me. And if there's any 
more you think of afterwards that you'd feel better about 


if you could talk it out, just go ahead. Now how would 
you like to listen to a story?" 

"Go ahead. I'll try to listen. But I told you how it was 
with me." 

"Once upon a time a mother and a father came to a big 
hospital in the city," I began. "Their eyes were swollen, 
for they had teen crying a great deal and they said, 'We've 
just lost our two babies with influenza. Our home is empty 
and our hearts are empty and we want another baby. 
Have you one here that needs a good home?' " 

As I talked, I watched Arthur's eyes, fixed on my face. 

"And what happened?" 

"The superintendent said, 'J ust now there's only one 
tiny baby and that one is so frail we don't think it will 
live. Its mother died when it was born and its father is 
dead, too. I'm sorry, but I'll let you know when we have 
a strong, healthy baby.' 

"But the mother and father looked at each other and 
the mother said, If good care and love will make that 
baby live, please let me have him. I know what sick babies 
are. Perhaps no one else will want him and he will have 
no home.' 

"So that father and mother took that sick little baby 
and gave him the love they had felt for the two babies 
who had died, and he got well. He became a fine little 
boy and they were proud of him. They planned that he 
should do wonderful things. 

"And they thought, 'Perhaps it will hurt him if he 
thinks he was not born to us. We will never let him know 


he really is not our own because we love him so and be- 
cause the law has given him to us/ 

"So when their boy came to them and asked if it were 
true that he was adopted they were frightened for fear 
he would think they did not love him and for fear he 
would stop loving them. And they said, 'No.' " 

Arthur's eyes were swimming and his cheeks were 

"Can you see now, boy, how it all happened? Fathers 
and mothers have to take what they can get when they 
have their own children. They have no choice. But they 
choose an adopted child. Think how much that means. 

"People who think only about themselves would have 
chosen a rollicking baby who wouldn't make them worry 
and trouble, and would give them a lot of fun. But you 
were chosen by your parents because you needed them, 
and they loved you the more for it. When you remember 
the two babies whose place you took — you have so much 
more love than most children." 

Arthur's head was down on the table but when he 
raised it there was a new expression on his face. 

"I'm glad you told me all this. I wish I had known it 
before. But I see why they didn't want me to know. Gee, 
I'm glad I know now!" 

"I'll come again to see you tomorrow, Arthur. I must go 
now. Tomorrow we can talk some more if you like." 

Next day a radiant Arthur rushed up eagerly. 

"I feel like a different person," he exclaimed. "I was 


so happy about what you told me I went to sleep right 
away, and this morning the jerking in my arms is gone. 
I've got one new worry, though. How am I ever going 
to make up to my father and mother for the way I've 
acted? I want to see them and Fm scared to see them. 
They've stuck to it so about my not being adopted." 

"I've been thinking about that, too. I wonder what you 
think of this: — They've done so much for you, and now 
you have a chance to do something big for them. As long 
as it gives them comfort to think that you believe you 
were born to them, how about letting them go on think- 
ing so? Never let them know you know otherwise, and 
just give them all the love and happiness you can. Would 
that seem possible ?" 

"I think that's great. They told a lie to keep me from 
feeling hurt, and I guess it's up to me to make them think 
I believe it." 

"Fine. And now let's go on with the tests. I'm sure 
you'll enjoy this one." 

The rest of the series of tests went well. The jerks and 
tremors were almost unnoticeable. The quality of the 
whole performance showed a keen mind and good judg- 

"What do you want to be when you are grown up, 

"I want to keep on at school and college and study law 
and get to be a judge. I'd like to have a court for children 
so I can help boys who get in trouble. You'd never guess 


how many of the boys here are doing things they oughtn't 
to. And I've learned a lot about why." 

Immediately after this second interview reports began 
coming in of a change for the better in Arthur's attitude 
and work. It was not long before he had won back his 
former privileges and honors. Two weeks later his parents 
came to visit him. He sent word after their visit that he 
wanted to talk with the psychologist. 

He had gained in weight and in poise. I saw already the 
well-built young man he would grow into. 

"I was going to do what we planned," he began, "but 
I didn't have to! They said they had been talking it over 
and they thought it was a mistake not to tell me the truth. 
That was why they came. To explain everything. 

"It was all just the way you told me, the way they chose 
me and the way they loved me and the other babies and 
how they wanted me to take their place in the world. We 
talked about a lot of things. We had a wonderful time. 
And then I told them about how I wanted to be a chil- 
dren's judge." 

"Did they like that?" 

"They thought it was great. Do you know what they 
said ? They're going to send me to college and let me study 
law so I can get started right off preparing myself." 


When ten-year-old Marguerite was brought to the Chil- 
dren's House we were ready to be very careful. Her par- 


ents had warned us of her tendency to be familiar with 
boys. They had not been able to control this and were 
afraid to be responsible for her any longer at this time. 

They brought her to us rebellious, her face swollen 
with crying, her only words, "I hate you," repeated over 
and over. 

During the first few days I was her frequent companion, 
for the child was in such a state that we felt it would be 
unwise for her and for the other children to be thrown 
together until she had calmed down and we had come to 
know her. We generally kept each new child in a friendly 
isolation of this kind for a few days. So she stayed in the 
little suite near my office and we went for walks together. 

I found her extremely intelligent. She used her ten- 
year-old experience with the ability of a much older child. 
She was a beauty, something like a marguerite herself, 
all white and gold, poised on a tall slender body, and her 
big, corn-flower blue eyes were deep and shining. After 
two days, she responded to my interest with a passionate 
gratitude that spoke silent volumes. 

She was an adopted child. Her parents had given up 
hope of ever having a child of their own, and had found 
this lovely baby, two years old, in an orphanage. Everyone 
turned to look at her as she was proudly carried in her 
new father's arms, and she nodded and beamed, waved 
her hand and threw kisses. A love of a child. The father 
was a lawyer and he and the mother planned the best of 
education for this promising youngster. 

Within a few months came, what so often comes with 


the adopting of a baby after childless years, the realization 
that they were to have a child of their own. This baby 
was another girl, who grew up pretty and charming, al- 
though never the beauty that Marguerite was. The two 
girls were devoted to each other, especially little Irene to 
Marguerite, but Marguerite became more and more de- 
manding of her parents as the years went on. She was 
good to Irene but could not bear to see her get two candies, 
for instance, if she herself did not have at least three. As 
a baby she had played for attention in public in a way that 
everyone thought cunning. But as she grew older the 
trick began to worry her parents. She came home one day 
a few months previous with candy given her by a "nice 
man." She had long been told never to accept anything 
from a stranger. She was punished for this by being shut 
in her room all day. The next day a neighbor telephoned 
the mother that Marguerite was at her house. She had 
noticed the child walking down the street with a stranger, 
and, alarmed, had called her in. In a fit of anger the 
father, when he got home and learned of this, told the girl 
with no softening of the blow, that she was no child of 
theirs. She turned white and said in a tight, hard voice, 

"So that's why you don't love me. Well, I don't love you 
either, I only love Irene." 

After that she became an aloof little figure in the house, 
causing less trouble than she had before, always devoted 
to Irene, apparently playing as usual and practising her 

Then one Saturday Marguerite did not come in to 


dinner. Irene had not seen her since lunch. While they 
were anxiously wondering what to do the door bell rang. 
A man and woman were half-carrying Marguerite. 

"I'm afraid your little girl's leg is hurt," said the man. 
"The car she was in had an accident, a lucky one. None 
of the boys were hurt beyond bruises. We came along just 
as they turned over, and I brought the little girl back." 

Any parent would have been frightened by the child's 
behavior. But these were more than normally alarmed 
because of their fear that Marguerite had a bad inher- 
itance that might contaminate their own little girl. 

So they isolated her in the guest-room while her leg was 
healing, would not allow Irene to see her, and continually 
reproached her for her misconduct, uttering dismal proph- 
ecies. Marguerite remained silent. 

One day the mother found a cheap bracelet hidden in 
the pocket of the child's sweater. She took this as a con- 
firmation of her worst fears. 

"You wicked child, what does this mean?" she cried. 
"What have you done?" 

Suddenly Marguerite could bear no more. 

"They liked me, they liked me, I tell you," she screamed. 
"They didn't hate me the way you do!" 

"No one should ever take a child from an orphanage! 
I might have known there was bad blood that would 
show up!" exclaimed the mother. 

In answer Marguerite began calling her one foul name 
after the other — words inconceivable for a child to have 


The mother's instant reaction was to get the child out 
of the house. 

The frantic child was packed off to us. It was a question 
with the parents whether she should ever make her home 
with them again. They had not wanted to give her up, but 
they feared for Irene. Perhaps if Marguerite spent a few 
months with us she would learn to look at things differ- 
ently and be able to come home. 

This was the story I knew. The parents were likable. 
There seemed to be a genuine affection for their adopted 
daughter in spite of the trouble she had brought upon 
them. And besides, Irene was unhappy without her. Mar- 
guerite would surely never do anything to hurt Irene once 
she was home again. 

Knowing all this from the parents, I understood the 
fervor of gratitude that shone in Marguerite's eyes when 
I showed interest in her. But I waited for her to feel the 
impulse to speak. It came the second night, when she 
began shrieking in a nightmare. With difficulty she was 
quieted back to sleep and next day she told me what she 
could about it. She often had had bad dreams, she said. 
People and bears were after her and sometimes snakes. 
This time she thought she was really awake and saw 
"spooks" making passes at her from everywhere around 
her bed. 

"When you are afraid of people and of animals in your 
dreams," I said, "it sometimes shows that you are very un- 
happy and think that people have been bothering you. 
Are you unhappy, Marguerite? I've been thinking so." 


Her eyes flashed. 

"Wouldn't you be unhappy if everybody hated you ? My 
father and mother hate me. They've got their own child 
to love. I'm adopted. I don't know who my real parents 
are. Oh, I wish I was dead!" 

"Can you tell me about it? I'll try to understand, and 
perhaps can help you feel better. It helps a lot to be able 
to talk to someone." 

"All right, I'll try. You're the first person I've ever liked 
except Irene. How they talked to me while my leg was 
bad, damn 'em to hell — oh, I didn't mean to say that," dis- 
tressedly. "I'm going to try so hard not to say those words 
any more. I'm always scared I'll say 'cm. I just hate 'em and 
yet I say 'em. Mostly they come into my mind when I'm 
in bed, and sometimes I don't dare try to go to sleep — " 
she broke off sobbing. 

"It's all right. I understand. When you feel better you 
won't need to say them any more. But tell me, isn't there 
something that comes up in your mind every time you 
want to say those words?" 

"How did you know?" 

"Because the same thing happens to lots of people. 
When they talk it out they feel better." 

Encouraged a little, she began. She stumbled over her 
words. Sex words, sex images, sex overtures, these were 
hard to her to say. I handed her paper and pencil. "Writ- 
ing them will be just as good as saying them," I assured 

Relieved, she wrote, handed me the paper, and went on 


"And they liked me. They liked me and they bought 
me candy and some of them gave me nickels. I knew it 
was bad, but I knew then I was adopted and I thought 
maybe I had to be bad, and I got all mixed up. Sometimes 
I wanted to be bad, I was so mad at my father and mother. 
Whenever I'd think of them I'd want to go right out and 
be bad. Then I'd be ashamed and sometimes, I don't know 
just how to say it, when I wanted to be bad, and didn't 
want to be bad, sort of ashamed and I thought about 
Irene, those words would come out." 

"And then you didn't want to go out and be bad after 
you'd said the words, isn't that it?" I asked. 

She nodded. "If I even whispered them to the dark, 
I could go to sleep." 

"That was a pretty good way. They didn't hurt any- 
body then. That shows you are not bad, if you try not to 
hurt people. I know you love Irene, and that's good. Tell 
me more about Irene." 

"She's sweet. She's got big brown eyes and straight hair 
with bangs, and we play house together all the times. I'm 
the mother and she's the baby. I never have to spank her, 
she's always so good. If I needed to spank anybody I had 
a big doll and I pretended it was bad." 

"Were you spanking it because it was big, like your 
mama, and you were angry at her?" 

"Yes, she wouldn't give me things and I was the oldest. 
I ought to get more than Irene. She wasn't fair and neither 
was Daddy. And when I said so they punished me." 

"Parents often give all their children exactly the same 
things, because they think that's the only way to be fair. 


Isn't that queer — I used to be angry at my parents, too. 
They made me eat the same supper as the babies till the 
youngest baby was big enough to eat the grown-up 

"That wasn't fair!" 

"Maybe not, but they thought they were doing the right 
thing. I got bigger clothes. I didn't have to stuff myself 
into the babies' size dresses and shoes, and I got the new 
clothes and the next sister got my out-grown ones. I got 
more grown-up books to read than she did, so it evened 
up, don't you think?" I asked, smiling. 

She smiled back. 

"I have a letter for you, Marguerite." 

She started eagerly, then drew back. "Who from? If it's 
my mother, I don't want it." 


"Give it to me quick, please, oh please!" 

She went over to the window to read it, her back care- 
fully turned to me. 

Suddenly she turned and buried her face in my lap, 
sobbing wildly. "They're lonesome for me, all of 'em, 
Irene says. She says, 'Come home quick.' " 

I patted her. "That's a lovely letter! It made you cry for 
joy, didn't it!" 

"I'm homesick! I want to go home! I want to go home!" 
she sobbed. 

"And they want you. If you like, I'll help you to get 
back as quickly as possible. Shall I?" 

"What do you mean?" 


"You'll want to bring them back a lovely little daugh- 
ter, won't you, with no more danger of running off and 
breaking out into tantrums and ugly words?" 

"Yes, I want to be nice." 

"Then we'll have some more walks and talks together, 
and you can come to my office whenever you need me. If 
you have to use bad words or think thoughts you don't 
like, come and tell them to me. They won't hurt me and 
it will do you good to get rid of them. Will you?" 

She promised eagerly. 

It wasn't so easy as all that, of course. There were en- 
couragements and set-backs. But she began to sleep better, 
she pored with me over "Growing Up" and "Being Born" 
and other books and diagrams I had around, to explain 
-to the children what they needed to know about the 
growing-up process, and, as she took her place among the 
other children, she showed real self-control. 

Her prettiness bowled over the two eleven-year-old boys 
at first, but she was so casual that they quickly lost 

Once a bright necklace which she did not own was 
found in the pocket of a dress of hers that had gone to the 
laundry. The handling of this incident was not tactful. I 
was not in at the time. When I returned I was met by an 
indignant matron and told I would find Marguerite in 
my office with her hands and mouth tied, because of the 
thievery and her dirty language when she was faced with 
the discovery. 

She was glaring defiance. 


"Gracious, you don't need those things ! I'll untie them," 
I said, taking them off. "Now tell me about it." 

"I don't feel like talking. I feel like swearing." 

"All right. Go ahead and swear. Swear as hard as you 

She opened her mouth, then shut it. 

"I don't feel like it any more. I — I want to cry!" and 
she burst into tears. I soothed her. 

"Now tell me about it ! You know I don't scold." 

"It was Sarah I was mad at. She's a sneak and a greedy. 
She hid all the nice things her mother brought her when 
she came to see her last week, and ate them all herself. 
We were all mad at her, and she got mad back and called 
me 'old bleached hair' and I started to swear back at her. 
Then I remembered I wasn't going to do that any more, 
and it just came to me to pay her back by taking her 
necklace. And then they called us to get dressed to go to 
the movie, and I forgot I had it and put my play dress in 
the wash." 

"I'm certainly glad that you could hold in the swear- 
ing. Congratulations. Now you've got a new job. Can 
you guess what it is?" 

"Not to get mad at all?" 

"Well, that would be too hard for anybody, I'm afraid. 
No, I wouldn't ask you to do that. The job I'm thinking 
of is, even when you are mad, not to take anyone's things 
to get revenge. It gets you in bad with everybody. I think 
I'd rather you'd go off alone somewhere and swear. Then 


maybe you could laugh at yourself a little while you're 

A smile was coming. Yes, that would be a way. "And 
now I guess I'd better go and apologize to Sarah. I'm 
sorry I did it. I really am. I won't say I'll never do it 
again, but I don't think I will." 

Meanwhile we had succeeded in getting the parents to 
understand what Marguerite really felt and needed which 
would make the home ready for her when she came back. 

Their mistake was not to have realized how sensitive a 
child is to attitudes even when no word is spoken. Long 
before they had told her that she was not their own child, 
she had sensed that she did not have the same secure 
footing as the little sister. She needed affection from some- 
where to make up for what she felt was the lack of it at 
home. This in itself explained her behavior. There was 
no need of calling in the possibility of "bad blood." As a 
matter of fact, in any family, regardless of its "good 
blood" there is always the chance of a poor combination 
of inheritance and an individual may appear who de- 
velops less quickly than the other children or who holds 
longer to his baby self-centeredness in a way that his 
training does not seem to account for. Take Bryce in the 
story, "In the Grip of the Ancestors." Such people need 
unusually careful training. There is little more of a chance 
taken in adopting a child than in having one of one's 

When the parents heard how tormented she was by the 


idea that perhaps she had to be bad, they realized at 
once and sharply how cruel it had been to taunt her. Her 
quite normal behavior with the little boys in the Chil- 
dren's House, where she was receiving her share of atten- 
tion and perhaps even a little more than her share, proved 
my point. So they waited eagerly to have her home again. 

Marguerite's basic mistake was the mistake of many 
adopted children, a constant and growing demand. If she 
did not get more than Irene she thought she was not 
getting as much. Here she needed all the help that we 
could give her. We talked that over together many times. 
I told her about children in other homes, that no child 
could have all it wanted, even an own and only child. I 
told the story of Laura, who had to learn to get along 
without all she wanted of her own father. I explained to 
her, as I did to Arthur, what it means to be a "chosen 
child" instead of one that just came. Marguerite was 
really a sensible little girl. When she fully understood 
that she had been expecting too much, and when the 
tempers wore off, I felt that she could be trusted again 
in the home where she was longing to be. 

It was almost a year before she earned her way back. 
A month before she did go, Irene came to see her for the 
first time. The meeting between the two little girls was 
touching. It was all Marguerite needed to put the finish- 
ing touch on her self-control. 

Two years later she was doing well, was taking part in 
the Junior High School activities, and so getting her nor- 
mal girl's share in the give and take of social living. 


Being an "Only" 


I he problems of only children are no different from those 
of any other child. Occasionally they are exaggerated by 
the concentrated solicitude of the family, or by the lack 
of opportunity to share, not only belongings, but also the 
time and interest of the grown-ups. Take Eleanor. 




Eleanor was the only child in the midst of worshiping 
aunts, uncles, grandparents and widowed mother. The 
first acute trouble came when she was six and would not 
leave her mother to go to school. By the time they came 
to the last corner, Eleanor would be in such hysterics that 
she had to be taken home. 

At first the mother said there was no other difficulty. 
But as she talked, it came out that Eleanor would not go 
to sleep unless someone lay beside her, would not eat un- 
less coaxed, fed or told stories, and then would touch 
nothing but breast of chicken and mashed potatoes. Her 
mother had tried to force her to eat better, and to sleep 
alone, but her own parents, parents-in-law and the raft of 
outraged uncles and aunts reproached her with torment- 
ing their darling. Now they all insisted that the child was 
too young and too sensitive to be forced to go to school. 

"Let's surprise them," I suggested. "Bring Eleanor here 
tomorrow and leave her with me for half an hour. Then 
we'll be able to make a plan." 

"I'll bring her, but she won't stay with you alone." 

"I think a surprise is in store for you, too. Don't worry. 
Everything will come out all right." 

The child who arrived next morning was small and 
pasty, but courteous in her greeting, alert and interested 
in the strange room. I turned to the mother. "You'll be 
back from your shopping in half an hour, won't you ? It's 
ten now, Eleanor, with the big hand of the clock up 


straight. When it's straight down it will be half an hour 
and mother will be here for you." 

When Eleanor realized her mother was leaving her, she 
screamed and clutched, but her mother disengaged her- 
self and left the room. As soon as the elevator door was 
heard to close, the shrieking stopped, and Eleanor turned 
an eager face to me. "What do we do now?" she asked. 

She played a few of the games, showing herself keenly 
intelligent, and they opened the path for a conversation on 
the way big children acted in contrast to what babies did. 
Then I asked her why she thought people ate food. 

" 'Cause things taste good," was all she knew about it. 
She was interested in finding that food helped children 
grow. She was anxious to be considered "big." 

"Let's make two lists, one of things you like to eat, and 
one of things you don't like. Then we can tell your 
mother and plan some meals." 

Her list of "don't likes" was astonishingly small. On 
the other hand, she didn't know whether she liked many 
things or not, because she had never tasted them. She was 
willing to try. 

All of a sudden the bell rang and her mother came in. 
The child ran to her eagerly. "What do you think we've 
been doing! Planning meals! See what we've put down 
for lunch and dinner today and breakfast tomorrow. Can 
we have them?" 

The mother was having the surprise I had promised, 
but she wisely said nothing except, "I'll try to get every 
single thing." 


"Come back tomorrow and we'll play some more," I 
said in good-by. 

Next day the child let her mother go with only, "You'll 
come for me in half an hour?" It had been lots of fun 
shopping with mother, she said, and getting all the things, 
and oh, how good they'd tasted! What could we plan for 
today ? 

When that was settled and another game or two played, 
she made a list of things a six-year-old girl should do, and 
another of what were babyish, that perhaps she'd been 
doing. The child showed that she knew very well just 
what she had been doing and why. The result was that 
next morning an astonished mother telephoned, to say 
that they would not be with me, as Eleanor had insisted 
on going to bed alone the night before and in the morn- 
ing was almost dressed and asking to go to school when 
her mother awoke. After crossing the last street the child 
dropped her mother's hand with merely a "good-by" and 
ran the half-block to the school without a backward 
glance. Her mother said, too, that the interest in food had 
continued and that she'd warned the relatives not to make 
remarks upon the change in the child's habits. 

A month later there had been no set-back, and, instead 
of pasty cheeks, Eleanor now had red ones. 

Most parents of only children are keenly aware of the 
importance of providing opportunities for companionship 
and sharing, with the result that only children often are 
less selfish than those with brothers and sisters. Eleanor's 
difficulties cleared away quickly because she was a sensible 


little girl, normally anxious to be "big" and ready to take 
on the responsibilities of "bigness." Hence it was not too 
much of a sacrifice for her to give up being fed, the 
stories at meals, and having someone lie down with her 
at sleep times, because there were compensations that 
brought her much greater satisfaction. 

Sometimes children give up their food fads when atten- 
tion to them ceases. Once a child is thoroughly convinced 
that no one cares whether he eats or not, the table ceases 
to be a battle ground. Whether the child is given his 
choice of any or all food brought to the table, whether 
new or disliked foods are gradually introduced, or whether 
he is told he can have nothing more until he has eaten 
the small quantity on his plate, doesn't really matter. 
Whatever the method, the secret of success lies in remov- 
ing from the adult's manner every trace of anxiety or 

Some parents have found that with children of three 
or four on, a social appeal may be made. My own mother 
used to say, "Think how badly grandma would feel if she 
had turnips for you for lunch and you wouldn't eat them! 
You'll be asked out to meals more and more as you get 
bigger. You don't need to li\e things, but you must learn 
to eat them without a fuss, so you'll be a good guest. See, 
I'm giving you only one spoonful, and we won't have 
turnips again for a long time." 

I have always been grateful for this training. It has 
helped me to come fairly gracefully through some diffi- 
cult places. 



Kathy's mother carefully planned a party for the child's 
second birthday. Kathy had hitherto known only adults 
who delighted in bringing parcels to be opened by an 
eager-eyed child, and her mother was not sure how she 
would adjust herself to children. So only three were 
asked to come from three to four. When the bell rang 
Kathy went to the door with her mother and greeted each 
child exactly as her mother did. Then she offered them 
her toys, among them her pet carpet-sweeper. 

A big box suddenly appeared in the center of the room, 
covered with pink paper and with a balloon soaring from 
each corner. The children each were told to pull hard at 
one of the balloons. The paper ripped and there was a toy 
at the end of each string. Susan, however, preferred the 
carpet-sweeper, and Kathy became worried. She went 
over to her and took it out of her hand, but when Susan 
began to cry, Kathy stared a moment and then gave her 
back the toy. 

"Party" itself was pink birthday cake with candles, to 
look at, and icecream with strawberries and animal 
crackers to eat. Then it was time to say good-by, and that 
was difficult. Kathy had never seen toys go out of the 
house before, and her expression was very queer as she 
said, first to one little girl and then to the other, "Good- 
by, Susan," then, wistfully, "Good-by, dolly," "Good-by, 
Gracie, good-by, b'loon." She did not cry, but it was clear 
that she was bewildered and even suffering a little. Her 


parents realized that from then on, she must be thrown 
more with other children, since it was not likely she would 
have brothers and sisters of her own. 

Bobby stayed a little longer, as his father was coming to 
take him home. Kathy had just started to eat another 
cracker when Bobby snatched it and ate it himself. Kathy 
stood aghast, till Bobby's mother said, "Isn't she wonder- 
ful not to cry!" That, of course, gave her the hint, and 
she howled. Nothing would comfort her until I handed 
her the whole bowl of crackers and said, "You offer 
Bobby some, and then take one yourself." Kathy was 
happy at once and passed the bowl like a gracious little 

I happened to be present when the child showed her 
earliest disobediences. She had always been a cheery baby, 
adjusting easily to whatever was demanded of her. I had 
been romping with her when her mother came in saying, 
"It's bath time." Kathy protested once, then as her mother 
said, "But the clock says it's bath time," she gave in 
gracefully. Her mother was obeying the clock too. The 
real rebellion came a year later when her mother told her 
to go in and take her nap. "I won't," she said, looking 
straight at her mother. 

"It's nap time," said the mother. 

For reply, the child stamped her foot, crying, "No!" 
then stamped on her mother's shoe. The mother with- 
drew her foot, but the child stamped on it again, cry- 
ing, "I won't, I won't!" The mother picked her up with- 
out speaking, carried her in and put her in her bed. She 


bounced out. The mother put her back several times, each 
time saying only, "It's nap time." Finally the child real- 
ized she was not being successful and relaxed on the bed. 
After the nap she came out, cheery as usual. 

During the next few weeks she said "No," several 
times. It was evidently an experiment to see what would 
happen, an attempt to widen the boundaries of her per- 
sonal freedom. When she was satisfied as to the new 
limits that growing older gave her, the disobedience 


Milestones toward Willingness to Be Ignored 


Dally Ann had always loved school, ever since she began 
nursery school when she was barely three. There had been 
a little clinging to her mother the first two or three days, 
then a delighted merging into the group. 



But this year, her first few weeks in the second grade, 
she came home unhappy. 

"I don't want to go to school any more, mommie. I 
don't like my teacher." 

Her mother tried to get at the root of the matter, but 
succeeded only in finding that Sally Ann was sure the 
teacher didn't like her, that she was "mean" to her, and 
that school was "horrid." 

"Think hard, Sally Ann, and see if you can find any- 
thing you've done that your teacher doesn't like." 

No, there was nothing. 

"Or something that you didn't do that she wanted you 
to do." 

No, nothing. Nothing at all. 

"Then, little girl, you've got to make the best of it. 
Some people like one kind of person and others like a 
different kind. So far you've been lucky and had the kind 
of teachers who liked you. But you can't always meet 
only the people who like you. None of us do. Now, if you 
and Jimmie play for half an hour, would you like me to 
call you then to go shopping with me ?" 

"Oh, yes, mommie. I'll tell Jimmie," and off ran Sally 

Her mother, however, turned the matter over in her 
mind, and then talked with the father. Next morning she 
went to school and went over the matter with the school 

"I've been so happy that she's loved school. I was afraid 
that she would hate it as I did. But I was the victim of the 


old, cramped methods. Now that she's begging not to go, 
I'm puzzled." 

"You know it is always possible to change her to the 
other second grade, in the first few weeks," the psycholo- 
gist reminded her. 

"I certainly don't want her to stay with a teacher who 
makes her dislike school, but on the other hand I don't 
want her to get the idea that by criticizing a teacher she 
can be transferred to another class, when it may be she 
herself who is at fault," said the mother. 

"Have you visited the class yet?" asked the psychologist. 

"Not for more than a little while at a time." 

"Then I suggest that you go in and spend the rest of 
the morning there. I'll go in tomorrow or perhaps today. 
After that we'll talk over what we've noticed and decide 
what to do." 

An hour later the mother came hurrying back to the 
psychologist's office. 

"I'm so glad I caught you," she said breathlessly. "You 
needn't make a special visit to Sally Ann's room now. I 
saw what was the matter, and I've learned a lot. Not for 
anything would I have her moved. 

"Miss Grey is exactly the person she needs. Let me tell 
you what happened. Sally Ann didn't make an independ- 
ent move while I was there. At every step she asked 
directions, approval, explanations. Miss Grey merely said, 
'You've a good little head, Sally Ann. You can think that 
out for yourself.' Sally Ann is angry at her teacher because 
she won't do her thinking and deciding for her. 


"Then I realized that it was all our fault, my husband's, 
my mother's and mine. We've patiently answered and 
answered and never tried to get her to think things out 
for herself. I'm going straight home and change our fam- 
ily tactics." 

"I'm glad you found out what the matter was so 
quickly. But I wonder. Sally Ann is not dull. We know 
that. Yet she is acting like a stupid child unable to think 
for herself. What satisfaction is she getting out of acting 
that way?" 

"Why, attention, to be sure. Why didn't I think of that 
before ? She's keeping us aware of her every minute." 

"Yes. And now another question. Why is it so neces- 
sary for her to keep you and the teacher aware of her ?" 

"You mean that she thinks she is not getting her share 
of attention ?" 

"Maybe she isn't. Or perhaps she only thinks she isn't. 
I know that she always speaks proudly of her little 
brother. But do you think she feels that he gets more than 
his share?" 

"That is one of my difficulties just now. He's still in the 
charming baby stage that she's just outgrown and people 
are always stopping to speak to him or about him and 
ignoring her. I've realized that it was hard on her and 
I've done my best to head off such remarks. Or I've tried 
to make it up to her. I've explained that she was just as 
cunning when she was little, and that there are com- 
pensations in growing up, like staying up later, having 
larger allowances, and so on." 


"That was wise." 

"But on the other hand, the little boy feels left out be- 
cause he is not so close to his grandmother as Sally Ann 
is, and we've had to make up to him for that, his father 
and I." 

"It is a real problem. I've had two years of Jimmie in 
the nursery school and I know how engaging he can be, 
while Sally Ann, for all her charm, is shy. Here she is 
clinging to her baby dependence as the only way she 
knows to keep her grown-up world as aware of her as of 
him. So we must see to it that she reaps more satisfaction 
from working things out herself and standing on her own 
feet than she's been getting from dependence. We here, 
and you at home, can take care that she gets this satisfac- 


A few days later Sally Ann came home with shining 

"We've got a lib'ary in our room and Miss Grey thought 
I'd be a good taker-care of it, 'cause I'm careful and the 
other children thought so too. So I take care of the cards 
they write their names on when they take home books. Miss 
Grey likes me now, mommie. Can't I ask her to come to 
lunch soon?" 

A year later. Sally Ann and Jimmie had spent the night 
with Emily and Jane. Emily was half way between Sally 
Ann and Jimmie in age, while Jane was younger than 
Jimmie. Jimmie came home bubbling with delight, but 
Sally Ann said little and disappeared into her own room. 


Her mother followed and tried to draw her out. Instantly 
a pent-in resentment burst forth: — 

"Oh, mommie, they didn't like me. They only liked 
Jimmie. And they weren't nice to me. They ran off with 
him all the time and had secrets, and I just stayed alone 
and played with the doll house." 

"Were you mean to them?" 

"No, mommie." 

"Maybe you were too bossy ?" 

"No, mommie, they just didn't like me." 

"I suppose, then, it was because you were too old for 
them. Jimmie and Emily are nearer the same age. And 
besides, you'll always find that some people like you best 
and some people like Jimmie best. You know how it is 
with you — you like Alvin and Wilma better than you do 
Edna and Jack, yet they're all nice children. Life's like 
that, you know. We all find that some people like us a lot, 
and some like us a little and some don't like us at all. We 
just can't worry about it. Next time Emily comes here or 
asks you there, Jimmie'll play with them and you and I 
will do something different. How's that?" 

"All right, mommie." 

She spoke almost cheerfully, but it was a hard lesson. 
She walked slowly and thoughtfully away. 


Having Passed Through 


In the three families whose stories follow, problems have 
not been lacking. There are no model children among 
any of the nineteen. What seems common in the three 
homes is a respect for all members of the family, and an 



ability to build up in the children a belief in their parents' 
interest and sympathy, so that it is easy for them to talk 
things over together. Through this belief and through the 
gradually increasing responsibility that leads toward adult 
independence (a technique common to all these parents) 
the young people seem to have developed an ability to get 
on well with people, to fill to the satisfaction of the em- 
ployer whatever job may be undertaken, and to find life it- 
self interesting and satisfying. These criteria, together with 
the ability to achieve and to give happiness in marriage, 
are the units of measurement by which I hold my friends 
the Houghtons, the Monroes, and the Arnolds successful 

A point of significance is the series of youthful mar- 
riages in each of the families. As Mrs. Arnold said, "Per- 
haps the thing that makes my husband and me happiest is 
to see that the children want to marry. It proves to us that 
our example has not terrified them. If one of my children 
said, 'Marriage is beautiful, but I want a career,' I should 
not mind; but if a child of mine said, Trom what I see 
of marriage, none of it for me!' I should feel we had 
failed miserably." 


The Houghtons were faced with the most important 
problem of their ten years of married life. It took all their 
courage to look at it squarely. Both of them with advanced 
tuberculosis and three small children! Not only that, but 


with no one in the families of either who understood their 
principles of bringing up the children, the principles that 
they had worked out with so much careful study ! In fact, 
only one or two of their friends were at all in sympathy 
with the way in which those Houghton youngsters had 
the run of the house and the say about what clothes they 
should wear and even what clothes they should buy! 

"We've got to think straight and fast now, when per- 
haps we have only a little time left with the children," the 
young parents said to one another. "Since we can't count 
on anyone else not to baby them and not stunt the judg- 
ment and independence we've been trying to foster, we 
must redouble our efforts to get all three, and certainly 
the two big girls, to think straight and to make decisions. 
We must put more and more responsibility upon them, 
but not to the breaking point. We must develop them to 
maturity of thinking and acting as quickly as possible so 
that they can carry on for themselves." 

At that time the two girls were eight and a half and 
almost ten and the boy just six. Their school life had been 
much interrupted by traveling and illnesses, but they had 
a fund of practical knowledge that came from trained ob- 
servation, experience, and the contact of their own quick 
little minds with the wise, rich minds of their parents. 
From the beginning the parents' principle had been, "As 
much responsibility as they can bear at each age. As much 
freedom to make mistakes as is consistent with physical 
safety. On our part as little nagging as possible." 

The result, to the few of us who understood and sym- 


pathized, was entirely satisfying. Those who criticized 
and thought it "dreadful that Pamela, not nine years old 
yet, think of it, should calmly announce to her mother 
that she thought she'd have a green dress for good this 
spring, and her mother only said she thought that would 
be pretty, and she was glad Pam had decided on it," those 
very mothers who criticized and felt that children so 
brought up would lose all respect for their parents and 
become "too cocky for anything," would remark with con- 
siderable bewilderment the friendly confidence with which 
the three Houghtons ran to their parents with all their 
joys, perplexities and sorrows, the freedom with which 
they talked things over together. 

"How do you get them to tell you all that ?" they would 
ask. "It's like trying to drive a wild horse to get ours to 
tell what they and their friends really do and think." 

But if Mrs. Houghton took them at their word and 
tried to explain, they would answer, "Oh, I'd never dare. 
They'd make so many mistakes. It would be too expen- 
sive, to say nothing about the worry on our parts. And as 
for acknowledging to them that their father or I ever 
make mistakes, why, we'd never get obedience after that! 
I notice you never get angry if the children question your 
opinion. I'd never stand for that. They've got to respect 
what I say. And my husband's been so strictly brought 
up. He insists on instant obedience and no questions, just 
as his father required of him." 

Sometimes Mrs. Houghton would change the subject in 
despair. Sometimes she would try to get a little further 


and would respond, "My husband was brought up that 
way too, and he found it made life very difficult for him. 
He made up his mind when he was still a boy that he was 
going to give his children the chance to make decisions 
and learn from their own mistakes. He didn't want his 
children to feel toward him the way he felt toward his 
father. I had the opposite extreme in my childhood, but 
it came to the same thing in the end. My parents loved 
babies and hated to see us grow up. They kept us babies 
as long as they could and we have found it difficult to 
learn to stand on our own feet. So my husband and I had 
no trouble in agreeing that we would start in early to cul- 
tivate independence in our children." 

With this preparation and a ten years' start, the young 
parents felt hopeful of carrying through their plan of 
developing such a sense of right values in their trio and 
such a habit of careful judgment as no over-solicitous rela- 
tives would be able to undermine. To start with, then, the 
children must be trained to carry on the household, even 
with one or both parents in bed. As a matter of fact, that 
is just what did happen periodically over the second ten 
years, for the Houghtons have lived to see their children 
grow up after all. 

Housekeeping, in its aspects of planning and buying 
food, clothing and household paraphernalia and the care 
of all these, offered fields for gradually increasing re- 
sponsibility and cooperation. Actual cooking offered an- 
other field. Social give and take offered still another. If 
Ruth wanted to give a party, she joyously would spread 


out her plans before her mother, discuss them with her, 
make her final decision after considering the pros and 
cons, and then proceed to put the entire plan into execu- 
tion. Mother would retire or even go out, and it was a 
point of pride with the children to make their part of the 
preparations a vacation time for their mother, so that she 
would be fresh and able to enjoy the party when every- 
thing was ready. Of course, if her opinion were asked or 
a bit of help needed, she was always ready. The two girls 
usually worked together in arranging the decorations and 
preparing the food. If one wanted to carry through her 
project herself, she was free to do so and the other girl 
would retire to return as a guest. 

They loved color and learned to use their wits to make 
the few pennies they had for decorations go as far as pos- 
sible. Shopping with their mother had taught them much 
about quality and values. 

School issues would come up, or moral issues. The chil- 
dren loved to talk them out with mother and dad. Since 
no opinion was ever imposed on them they listened eagerly 
to their parents' reactions, sometimes agreeing, sometimes 
taking the opposite point of view. 

Then the parents would say, "You may be right. It 
seems to us that you're making a mistake, but it may be 
we who are mistaken. Think over both lines of argument 
carefully. Then go ahead according to your best judg- 
ment. If you are wrong, we will help you as best we can. 
If we are wrong, we'll have learned something new, 


widened our experience, and we'll be very proud of you 
and grateful to you for having shown us the way." 

These children were no prigs. They had plenty of ups 
and downs. Pamela took adolescence rather hard and, 
with her opinionated ways, made life almost unbearable 
at times to the adults. But they realized that it was a stage 
of growth and preserved their equanimity. In a couple of 
years she had ceased to announce impressively, "In all my 
life I've never heard such magnificent singing," or, "In 
my opinion, this is the best book on the subject." During 
this period the parents' method was to listen respectfully, 
and then remark that it was interesting to note the variety 
of ways in which a voice or a book, a personality or an 
action, could affect different people, perhaps because each 
person's experiences had been so different. 

The summer the girls were twelve and fourteen a 
chance visit acted as a crucible to try out their values. The 
eighteen-year-old daughter of an old schoolmate of Mrs. 
Houghton's came to spend a month while her mother 
was away. Mrs. Houghton had seen little of this friend 
since their school days. She knew she had lost her hus- 
band shortly after her baby was born, and that there had 
been a constant struggle with poverty. But Mrs. Houghton 
was not prepared for the hard, cynical young woman this 
baby had become. Pam and Ruth were awestruck at this 
glimpse of another world, such a grown-up glittering 
world, it seemed to them. For several weeks their old 
dreams of a future of travel, college, writing, acting, in- 
terior decorating and journalism were sidetracked for 


those of evening clothes, smart sports wear, balls, beaux, 
wealthy husbands and magnificent homes. Again the par- 
ents said to each other, "Patience. We'll live through this. 
We've lived through other phases before." 

Accordingly they attempted no opposition, no remon- 
strances, no veiled attempt to expose the tawdriness of 
Cecile's values, and three or four weeks later they had the 
satisfaction of seeing their girls, bored by this time with 
sitting motionless at Cecile's sophisticated knees, rise 
vigorously and plunge into their old lively and whole- 
some activities. 

The small son, too, had his moments. One afternoon he 
did not come home from school at two as usual, nor at 
three, nor at four. At almost six he appeared, much ex- 
cited, and telling how his teacher had taken the whole 
first-grade to the top of a neighboring high hill from 
which there was a wide view. It seemed improbable, but 
the young man stuck to his story with such a wealth of 
detail that his family was silenced. The girls had climbed 
to the top a couple of weeks before, but Don had not been 
with them. That evening his father, going to the library, 
happened to meet the youngster's teacher. 

"Don told me what a marvelous time you gave the 
children this afternoon. I'm filled with admiration at 
your courage in taking the entire class up Mt. Hemlock!" 

"Mt. Hemlock! What do you mean? We didn't go any- 
where this afternoon." 

"Aha, master Don! I rather suspected as much. You 
see, Miss Anderson, Don has let his imagination run away 


with him. His sisters each went through the same stage 
at about this age. I remember when Pamela, the eldest, 
used to tell imaginative yarns as if they were true, until 
finally one day she came in announcing that a thousand 
white elephants were parading down Main Street. Her 
mother became excited and exclaimed, 'A thousand white 
elephants! I want to see them too. Come on, and we'll 
hurry before they're all gone.' The young lady was rather 
nonplussed and said, 'Well, mother, there aren't really a 
thousand. Maybe it's only five hundred.' But that didn't 
dampen her mother's ardor. So little by little Pam lowered 
the number in her procession until finally she got down 
to one. Her mother, though, had hold of her hand and by 
this time had pulled her beyond the garden gate. Half- 
way down the block Pam stopped, and looking much 
ashamed, admitted, 'There weren't any, mother. I just like 
to think there were.' 

"After that she was ready to label her stories true or 
make-believe especially as we told her that we liked both 
kinds, but that we always liked to know which was 
which. Ruth went through the same thing a couple of 
years later, and now Don comes along. I'm going in to 
get a copy of Munchausen and try an experiment." 

The next evening Mr. Houghton said he had a new 
book of stories to read aloud and the children gathered 
round him. Their eyes opened wider and wider as he read, 
until at the end of the first tale Pamela gasped, "Father, 
don't you think that Mr. Munchausen has just a little bit 
— over expressed himself?" 


Ruth and Don said nothing. 

The next story was curious. Mr. Houghton was appar- 
ently reading from the book, but the story had bewilder- 
ing elements of familiarity. When Munchausen was a lit- 
tle boy, one day he didn't come home from Sunday school 
until nearly night, and then explained that the teacher 
and the whole class had gone on a picnic to the top of a 
famous mountain, which he proceeded to describe. 

As their father read on all three children had their 
heads cocked to one side, puzzled furrows between their 
brows. Suddenly Don galvanized into life. Face the color 
of a cock's comb, head sunk low on his chest, he took a 
flying leap from his chair, butted his head into his father's 
stomach, flung his arms around his waist and clung there, 
butting, trying vainly to knock his breath out so that he 
would stop reading. 

Nothing was said. Nothing more was needed. Don 

The years slipped by. Sometimes mother was in bed, 
sometimes father. But precaution and care prevented the 
doctor's prophecy from coming true. Both parents are still 
living and have seen the children grow up independent, 
thoughtful, capable, sociable. All three are happily mar- 
ried. There are three grandchildren. By not losing their 
heads in the struggle to maintain parental prestige, these 
parents had been able to establish a mutual confidence 
that was invaluable as the children came to the age when 


many young people shut the door of their lives in their 
parents' faces. 


It had been a tradition in the Monroe family to gather 
in all the friends and have most of the good times at 
home. Back in Grandfather Monroe's time the big house 
and garden were always full of romping youngsters, 
changing to a college crowd a few years later that alter- 
nately romped and discussed solemnly the philosophy and 
economics of living. Grandfather, who was father then, 
was always included in the bevy of young people, and 
grandmother, then mother, beamed placidly on the happy 

g r o u P- 
The Monroe boys all followed their parents' example 

and married young. Fred, the oldest son, and his wife 
Selma are now young grandparents themselves, since their 
oldest daughter Frederika followed the family tradition at 
nineteen. A happy, turbulent, unconventional family and 
family life. There were years of financial stringency, many 
violent but short-lived clashes between the children, anx- 
iety carefully held in leash by the parents, but through 
it all has run the thread of companionship, sympathy, 
varied common interests and a love of home. 

Fred and Selma's two oldest babies were born in Europe 
while the parents were studying there. It would have 
been a pity to be in Europe and not to see as much of it 
as possible, so baby was tucked into a stout clothesbasket 


with a strong handle, all the little trousseau underneath, 
and away went the family "touristing." When there were 
two babies, the boy strutted manfully beside his father, 
while four-months-old sister slept peacefully through the 
glories of Italy. 

Back in America came the crossroads, one path follow- 
ing the beaten track with a secure position and an ample 
income; the other a barely blazed trail with a goal that 
lay near to Fred's heart. He turned to his wife. 

"You'll have to decide this," he said, "since you and the 
children will be the ones who will be the most affected. 
One way means easy living from the start, and the other 
may mean years of pinching, with possible success at the 
end. You've put up with so much these three years in 
Europe that I haven't the right to ask you to go through 
any more." 

"You don't have to ask me. I want you to go into the 
pioneer work. It means everything to you, and as for the 
children, think how much better it will be for them not 
to have everything coming easily to them. I hate blase 
young ones anyhow, and it won't hurt me to do without 
a maid a while longer. As a matter of fact, the children 
will be with me so much more this way that I flatter my- 
self they will be better educated than if they were left 

to a nurse." 

Selma prophesied truly. Her own interests were many 
and varied. Her capabilities were apparently limitless and 
she had one talent especially that meant everything to her 
own life and the lives of her husband and children. This 


was the gift for entertainment. She had a proud uncon- 
ventionally that enabled her to say, "I shall never offer 
entertainment that I cannot afford. All our friends and 
acquaintances know our financial status. If they are willing 
to accept the simple entertainment I can offer, there is no 
reason for me not to accept whatever kind they wish to 

The result was that she numbered among her friends 
people from many walks in life, each of whom, whether 
artist, student, financier, worker or housewife, eagerly 
looked forward to the next merrymaking at the Monroes', 
so jolly, so unique, so utterly relaxing and delightful it 
was sure to be. 

Every little while Selma would decide to keep one of 
the children (there were four by now) out of school for 
six months or so, and teach him herself. She would invite 
the children of a neighbor or two to join George or Fred- 
erika, or whichever child it might be, and with a couple 
of hours' supervised work a day and much supplementary 
tennis, swimming, reading, music and gardening, she 
would return the children to their regular school, six 
months ahead of where they would have been. 

Each child knew it was open house, day or night, but 
that he was responsible for the comfort of his own guest, 
and that he was responsible for his share in making the 
entire household's machinery run smoothly. Each child 
knew the limitation of the family purse and even when 
High School was reached, there were no inordinate de- 
mands for money for social frills. It was much more im- 


portant to have a good tennis racquet than a new dress 
or suit. Money went into fine concerts or a rare moving 
picture such as Robin Hood. That was an event talked of 
for weeks afterwards. The first Paderewski concert was 
dreamed about for weeks before it took place, and the 
Minuet was adoringly practised by thirteen-year-old 

"Oh, do you think he'll play it? I know you say he 
always plays it, but this time, do you promise me he'll 
surely, surely not leave it out? How do vou think he'll 
play this part?" running to the piano. 

And then, when the great day came, and the Minuet 
was not on the printed program, my sister and I whis- 
pered assurances to each other that it would indubitably 
be one of the encores. And then encore after encore and 
no Minuet! What anguish must be going on in Frederika's 
heart. Suddenly as the tall black figure with its flowing 
mane bowed its way across the crowded stage, after what 
must surely be the final encore, a shorter figure, all in 
white, with long white legs and a flood of pale hair 
streaming, tore across the stage, seized the black elbow 
and held vigorous and urgent conversation with the 
stately, poetic face above. The great artist wheeled, patted 
the child on the shoulder, led her back to the piano and 
played the Minuet to his enraptured listener. In the opin- 
ion of one listener who had heard him give it many times, 
he played it as he never had before. 

After the concert we waited for the Monroes and little 


Emery said proudly, "Did you see Frederika go right up 
to Mr. Paderewski and talk with him?" 

And Frederika, in the most matter-of-fact voice, ex- 

"But I had to. He wasn't going to play the Minuet." 

No blase children there. 

Early love affairs began to bud in this family as they 
had budded early in the previous two generations. The 
parents were prepared. They had planned for emer- 

"If we want to know the boys and girls our children 
are choosing as sweethearts, we must avoid every shadow 
of opposition, no matter what we think or fear. We must 
invite them often, give them every welcome, and if they 
do not show up well against our background, it is likely 
that our children will notice the discrepancy almost as 
quickly as we do. It's not as if any of the children were 
rebelling against our kind of life. They've always said 
they had better times bringing their friends home than 
going visiting themselves." 

So the first boy and girl interests served as apprentice- 
ships to the great business of becoming an adult, with 
father and mother close at hand as master-craftsmen. 

Meanwhile financial success made its appearance, but 
the children were so filled with the habits of shared re- 
sponsibility, so able to throw themselves into simple pleas- 
ures, that money to them meant chiefly more concerts, 


more books and plays, new plants for the garden, oppor- 
tunities for hobbies. Not one of these young persons is 
smug. Each is eager, alert, independent. Each has had 
problems of personal adjustment to the group and to the 
world that have brought him a widening understanding, 
a gradually acquired self-control. Each is as different from 
the others as if he came from an unrelated family. 

The two oldest are out in the world and standing on 
their own feet. Frederika, as a mother, is carrying on the 
family traditions, in that she is carving out her own path 
regarding the training of her baby son. 

"I'm showered with advice from all Jack's relatives," 
she says, "but I'm not at all sure about most of it, and I'm 
quietly working things out for myself." 


"It's really much easier to get along well in a large 
family than in a small one," said a mother who knew 
what she was talking about, for she had not only been one 
of nine herself, but could point proudly to seven sons and 
five daughters, each planned for, welcomed and trained 
into cooperative and loving responsibility. 

"You can have such good times, with teams ready to 
hand, and it's so sociable," she went on. "Oh, yes, there 
are quarrels, plenty of them, but if tension gets too high, 
their father has trained them to select a referee, put on 
the gloves, go into the back yard and have a go at each 
other. There is always an audience too, and that adds to 


the interest. The older ones are mostly away now and 
things are not so exciting. But for my part, I found the 
house even easier to run when it was full of children. 

"It wasn't that I was naturally a good manager. I take 
very little credit myself. My husband made the original 
suggestion and laid most of the plans to run the house on 
a cooperative scheme, as much like a business concern as 
we could. He said if we were going to have the large 
family we wanted, we would have to grease the household 
machinery as much as possible and that the more grease 
the children could supply of themselves, the better 
equipped they would be for living outside the home later 
on. So we sat down and worked out a scheme that had 
three main facets. 

"The first was the general skeleton of the routine of 
the house, just as a business has its general routine. We 
were all to be bound by this, so as to save time arguing, 
pleading, trying to decide. At the same time we realized 
we must never let ourselves become slaves to routine. So 
we made allowance for very special occasions, such as 
staying up later for birthday parties, and the like. Then 
within the limits of the schedule we all had great free- 
dom. For instance, if it were a fine evening, the group in 
charge of supper might announce that we would eat out- 
of-doors. Or if it were a howling, dreary night, they'd 
decide that we'd have a floor picnic around the big fire- 
place in the living room. 

"The second phase of the scheme was that the work of 
the household should be organized into jobs, and these 


jobs carefully studied and graded according to their diffi- 
culty, their wearisomeness and their responsibility. Then 
they were to be handed around according to age, ability 
and reliability. As often as possible, the jobs were given 
to groups, instead of to individuals, in order to avoid lone- 
someness and monotony. When the oldest children were 
tiny, only the simplest jobs were given them, but as they 
grew older, they advanced to more and more difficult and 
responsible ones, while breaking in their next younger 
brothers and sisters to take over their work. They always 
seemed to get a great deal of satisfaction out of playing 
teacher in this way. They could trade jobs if they liked. 
But both sides had to be satisfied, and the job equally well 

"How did you get them to be willing to accept such 
responsibility?" I asked. 

"Well, that is where the third part of the scheme came 
in. Every Sunday, and oftener if necessary, we had a fam- 
ily conference. Dad was the head, but each member had 
not only the right, but was expected to take part. That 
was the time to offer suggestions or to consider the sug- 
gestions of the others as to better methods, eliminations or 
new projects. Dad sat at the head of the table and listened 
respectfully while each child learned to present and de- 
fend his own case. 

"It was excellent training for them all and one of the 
by-products was the growth of a belief in the wisdom and 
fairness of the pooled opinion of the group. It led, too, to 
a surprising amount of cooperation and confidence in each 


other. We had a signal proof of this only recently. Our 
fourteen-year-old girl is a junior in High School, with 
classmates mostly two years older. She raised the question 
of being allowed to go to parties with a boy unchaperoned, 
as her friends were accustomed to do. We demurred, 
thinking she was still too young. She argued that as she 
was constantly with these older girls, who accepted her 
and that since she stood on equal terms with them at 
school, she should be considered as being practically their 
age and have the privileges they enjoyed. She knew that 
her sisters had been carefully chaperoned, but things were 
different now. Anyway, why not have a family confer- 
ence and abide by the pooled opinion ? 

"Now, of course, the older children are all scattered, 
some at work, some at college, and one away married, so 
a family conference seemed impossible. 'Not at all/ per- 
sisted Marnie, 'Let's do it by letter.' No, she'd rather not 
write the letters herself, We knew how she felt, and she 
knew we'd put her side fairly. We agreed, provided she 
would look over our letters and see if we had stated both 
sides without prejudice. 

"The result was interesting. The married sister and her 
husband were strong for chaperonage. The youngest col- 
lege boy said it would be time enough to consider the 
subject when Marnie was old enough to be asked out by a 
boy. He hadn't realized how the young lady had grown 
up since his last vacation! But the others, each from his 
corner of the world, wrote, 'Mamie's a capable, sensible 
girl. You can trust her. Be sure you know the boy and 


then let her go. Be sure, too, to see them off and be around 
when they come in/ 

"So we did, and all goes on serenely. But what pleases 
us especially is the spirit this shows. 

"As for routine, that has been, of course, the backbone 
of our living, but, like a backbone, it combines strength 
with flexibility. We all like a fair amount of certainty. 
And of course a schedule we really live by eliminates, as I 
said before, quantities of waste time, effort and emotion 
by eliminating arguments and fussing. The children all 
understand why we use schedules. They all have learned 
to feel that they are cooperators and producers as well as 
mere receivers of protection and consumers; and the 
schedule helps. They really like it. It makes them feel im- 
portant and worthwhile. The flexibility comes in when- 
ever necessary. Our schedule isn't dead and as each child 
knows that he can make suggestions in regard to it, none 
of us is irritated by feeling that we live according to rule. 

"Enough of the children have grown up now so that 
we can begin to judge results. As they go away from 
home and have to depend more and more on themselves, 
they seem to carry with them a fund of knowledge of situ- 
ations and of people that stands them in good stead. They 
welcome responsibility, or at least they accept it instead 
of resenting it or trying to avoid it, as we have seen so 
many young people do. And they also go at a job in con- 
structive fashion. They differ widely in their interests. 
That pleases us too. They have been used to earning and 
spending money since babyhood, making budgets and 


keeping accounts, so they do not become overwhelmed by 
manipulating an allowance when they start off for col- 
lege, or by living within their salary as they start on their 
first jobs." 

A visit to the great rambling house where children and 
young people of all ages are coming and going, where the 
two generations mingle in happy confidence, is a hearten- 
ing experience. 

The most outstanding part of the Arnold plan is the 
family council. Such a council is equally successful in 
smaller families. For instance, I know a family where 
there is a son and a daughter. At one period the girl in- 
sisted on having a larger dress allowance. The four met 
in council. The parents worked out before the children 
the budget for the absolute necessities of their household. 

Next the father told them his monthly income. "Sub- 
tract the necessities," he said, "divide by four and you'll 
see what the share of each of us is for clothes, carfares, 
and amusements." 

The children gasped when they saw how small each 
share was. 

"But my winter coat cost more than my whole share 
for two months!" the girl exclaimed. "How did it get 
paid for?" 

"I made my old coat do one more winter," said her 

"I was going to tell you I needed a new baseball outfit," 
said the brother, "but my share will have to go for the 


shoes I need worse, if we're to keep even, and I'll begin 
to save for the baseball things." 

Without being called selfish both children realized the 
unreasonableness of their demands, and cheerfully modi- 
fied them. 


Til Be Good If You'll Be Good" 


Oee what I found on my bed when I went in just now," 
said Sally Ann's mother to her husband one evening. She 
handed him a slip of paper. 
"What does this mean?" he asked as he read it. 



"She's been slow and dreamy again, and it's gotten on 
my nerves. I must have been much more impatient and 
nagging than I realized. She makes me ashamed of my- 
self. Of course her behavior depends on ours. But isn't her 
way of seeing it refreshing!" 

The little note read: 

Dear mommie: 

I love you very much. I'll try hard to keep my room nice. I'll 
be good if you'll be good. 


Sally Ann. 

"I'll be good if you'll be good." What words could bet- 
ter convey the purpose of this book, trying to carry to all 
older people who have children in their care, the child's 
point of view? 



The child's world is different from the grown-up's. A naughty 
child is an unhappy child, trying to right situations that he cannot 
bear; his lack of experience and mistakes in so doing. This book is 
an attempt to find out the misunderstandings behind annoying be- 
havior. Usually with understanding this behavior stops. 


Mar\: (complaints) quarreling, defiance, laziness, sudden school 
failure, jealousy 

Mistaken belief he was not loved, consequently not fairly treated. 
What he believes is true for him, and he acts accordingly. With 
misunderstanding cleared, annoying behavior disappears. Mother 
finds she has been spoiling the two babies, and changes, finding 
one can't touch one of the family without touching all. Mark's 
need of protection against the marauding babies who spoil his 
things. Mark, recognizing value of help given, brings playfellows 
for help, too. His feeling for justice and his social feeling. 

Sally Ann: jealousy, tantrum 

The nipping in the bud of the first signs of jealousy of the new 
baby in the two-year-old, in contrast to Mark, where it had been 
ingrained seven years. Need to get past utter dependence on love. 

Timothy: wetting, attacking of baby, shyness, aimless running, 
masturbation, refusal to speak 

Teasing, uncooperative parents; dominating husband and father, 



compensating for small stature and minor position in business 
world; weak, excusing mother. A teasing parent causes a teasing 
child. Child believes parents no longer love him, since the ar- 
rival of the new baby. Masturbation a sign of his need to seek 
comfort from within, since he found none outside. With lack of 
cooperation at home, only hope lies in understanding at school. 
Improvement comes with that. 

Elizabeth: tantrums, jealousy, shyness, arithmetic weakness, pull- 
ing out own hair 

Another dethroned baby, indignant at parents and punishing 
them. The tantrum as a technique of meeting life. Rage as help- 
lessness. An only child for seven years, spoiled because of deli- 
cacy as infant. Tantrum the strongest weapon of the spoiled 
child, who uses it to get what it wants and to avoid obstacles. 
When child meets, in the new baby, an obstacle she cannot evade, 
tantrums become wilder because of her helpless rage against the 
parents she thinks repudiated her. The child recognizes and dis- 
likes her own attitude. The parents are more and more coopera- 
tive as they gain understanding of the child. 


Margaret: crying, selfishness, jealousy, anger, tantrums, domineer- 
ing, contrariness, rebellion 

Paul: thumb-sucking, baby talk, helplessness, timidity 
Two more dethroned babies, one aggressive, one passive. Jeal- 
ousy shown in both as father transfers affection from one baby 
to the next. Father considers each baby a toy, the older child 
more a responsibility. Both children show different reactions to 
illness in infancy. Paul solves his problem of getting attention 
by remaining a baby, while Margaret solves hers by anger, re- 
bellion and domineering. The fighting child, thought more of a 
nuisance at the moment, has the best chance in future for sue- 


cessful living. The passive child is crushed, unless help comes 
in time. 

Laura: spoiled, thumb-sucking, wetting, nightmares, grinding 
teeth in sleep, food fads, destructiveness, tantrums, quarreling, 
jealousy, laziness, question of sex difficulties 
She knows she is an unwanted child, that the little brothers are 
the father's favorites, and she becomes, in revenge and unhap- 
piness, as annoying as possible at home, while making excellent 
school adjustments. Her goal, to attain her father's love, is seem- 
ingly impossible. The mother is not completely cooperative, since 
to cooperate would be to confess that she has been at fault. 

Doris: quarreling, domineering, rudeness, destructiveness, cruelty, 
nail-biting, selfishness, jealousy, restless sleep, impudence 
The oldest child, spoiled since desperate illness in infancy. Re- 
fused to give up her reign as disagreeable and exacting queen; 
at the same time, enjoying being a responsible older sister. 


Alice: grouchiness, sullenness, stupidity, graspingness, quarreling, 
jealousy, disobedience 

Ardis: boldness, selfishness, wanting babying, quarreling, jealousy, 

They behaved alike when treated alike by understanding teach- 
ers, but at home, where one was identified with a beloved dead 
baby, one was gay, assured, affectionate, the other called by 
mother sullen, stupid, grouchy. Mother and grandmother un- 
cooperative, playing favorites persistently. As unloved twin has 
more and more experience of being shoved out, she will become 
more unhappy, more sullen and grouchy, until people will say 
that she has an entirely different nature from her twin, yet this 
will not be true, for when treated alike they behaved exacdy 



Raymond: quarreling, jealousy, night-terrors, nervousness, food 
fads, fussiness, restless sleep, teasing 

Louise: quarreling, jealousy, rages, impudence, laziness, selfish- 
ness, violent language 

The boy, the younger, feels he must be revenged on his sister 
who has the place he, as the boy, should have, of being the eldest. 
Also she is tall for her age while he is short for his. She knew 
her parents wanted a boy instead of a girl, and, resenting this, 
she punishes parents and brother by her irritating behavior. Pic- 
ture complicated by birth of third baby, and consequent night- 
terrors of Raymond. These stopped, but further help blocked by 
lack of cooperation of parents. 

Jimmie: destructiveness, jealousy, rage, disobedience, defiance, 

Jimmie revenges himself by destructiveness on the family which 
allows his sister to be taken on trips while he stays at home. 
Taken on a trip while she is left at home, he ceases being de- 
structive. He does not quarrel directly with the sister he loves. 


Jimmie: destructiveness, disobedience, jealousy, defiance 

One more incident of the destructiveness dealt with above, in- 
volving the fascination of the forbidden (knife to small boy). 
The matter successfully handled by the father through obtain- 
ing the child's cooperation in sacrificing to pay for damage he 
had done. 

Norma: vomiting, food fads, jealousy, fears, sauciness, worrying, 
refusal to sleep alone 

She gets attention by vomiting, fussing about food, refusing to 
sleep alone and fearing anything sad. Thus she keeps her 


mother tied to her, and keeps herself from assuming responsibil- 
ity. Her neurotic mother offers an example of invalidism. "Nice 
to be a baby." With poor cooperation from mother, outcome 
likely to depend more on this highly intelligent child than on 


Bryce: slyness, tatding, cruelty, harsh voice, calculatingness, rude- 

Win: underhandedness, lying, over-activity, twitching in sleep, 
grinding teeth in sleep, uncouth manners, loud voice 
The effect of past generations, living and dead, on the lives of 
two boys. Rebellion of their mother against the prim tyranny of 
her own mother, and consequent over-doing in giving her 
children freedom. The shut-in great-grandmother and her effect 
on three later generations. The spoiled, shouting, demanding 
grandmother, and her spoiled only son, trained to be selfish, 
and denounced by his mother when he neglects her. Conflicting 
ideas about training children between parents. Strained sex 
relationship. Mother not afraid to face herself, change herself, 
and admit, even to her children, that she'd made a mistake. 


Bob: Stealing, bad companions 

Rivalry here takes the form of being different from his brother, 
having interest in sports instead of study. Discouraged at being 
expected to live up to brother's reputation at home and at 
school, he first rifles brother's and mother's purses, as if in re- 
venge, then takes refuge with a gang, ending in stealing for 
them. Unsatisfied sex curiosity found to be a definite element in 
gang's power over him, while stealing relieves his guilty feelings 
over his sex curiosity. Helped by correct explanation and by a 
new appreciation of his individuality by mother and teachers. 



Hugh: no complaint, just normal interest 

In contrast to Bob, whose mother refused to satisfy his natural 
sex curiosity, here is a mother's constructive handling of a sex- 
play incident. She gives not only an explanation of "the father's 
part" in starting a baby, but also a point of view which will 
help the boy face other problems of sex, marriage and human 
relationships in wholesome fashion, with a sense of responsibil- 
ity and a respect for idealism as well as for fact. The danger in 
masturbation lies in the sense of guilt, not in the activity. 


Edgar: from a stepmother situation 
He feels he isn't loved as much as his small brothers, basing 
this on mistaken proofs. The stepmother notion begins only as 
schoolmates start pitying him for being like Cinderella. 

Isabel: from an unsympathetic home where she was bossed, teased, 
scolded or ignored by all but her father 

She runs away to save herself from annihilation. Episode with 
Emma — two outcasts fighting the world in revenge and despair. 
Immediate response to affection and interest. 

Willa: from reality 
She invents imaginary playmates who are more interesting to 
her than real children because she can make them do anything 
she wants. Her parents handle the problem constructively, first 
by not antagonizing her by teasing or showing disbelief, second 
by providing new interests. Such imaginings should not be 
called lies. 


Sally Ann: satisfactions gained through illness: attention, gifts, 
exalted position 


Consequent use of illness as threat of lever: development of new 
needs to bring parents to her side; to avoid anything disagree- 
able. Dissociation of illness and satisfaction. Prevention of habit 
of invalidism. 

Jerry: attempt to use illness as alibi 

"That tired feeling." Imitation of an adult remark. Mother's 
antidote meets with unqualified success. 

Howard: high schooler using illness as threat over teacher as he 
always used it to bring widowed mother to terms 
Here it is also an escape from responsibility for his own con- 
duct, which is the difference between high school and grammar 
school treatment of children. Anxiety dream caused by fear that 
he cannot make good his mother's expectations. Wants the de- 
pendence and irresponsibility of infancy because that keeps adult 
attention. Faced with this tendency in himself, he repudiates it 
and takes a more adult attitude. 

Elmer: prolonged infancy due to alarmist doctor and inexperi- 
enced mother 

Use by child of supposed weakness as threat in order to get 
what he wants. Use by child of his new freedom under psychol- 
ogist's care, and prompt realization of the uselessness of his 
weapon against her. Explanation to adults that the boy was be- 
ing trained into life of invalidism, so as to evade all difficulties, 
with premium put on remaining a baby. 

Ned: the prestige of having imaginary illnesses: of behaving as 
he sees others in the family behave and as he thinks is the way 
to be grown-up 

His quick response in modeling himself after adults with more 
wholesome ideals. Suggestion to him that since imaginary means 
not real, he can get rid of any imaginary illness by thinking it is 
not there. This brings prompt response. 


Warren: invalidism and apparent change of disposition after auto- 
mobile accident injuries 

These disappear as soon as damage suit is dropped, since this 
robs him of his importance. 

Dic\y: mother hates to lose her baby 
Emotional over his starting school. Emotion causes indigestion 
in child, who vomits on way to school. Child realizes he has new 
weapon, vomiting, and uses it successfully for a year. Then 
mother puts two and two together. Dicky sees that his method 
no longer works, and vomiting disappears. 

John: finds teacher is not like mother and that threats to vomit 
do not move her 

He promptly discards weapon. Teacher explains to mother how 
child uses weapon to punish her if she does not do what he 
wants, and how habit of evading responsibility, using weakness 
and illness to order people about, is being trained in. Roots of 
such a habit are short in childhood, and can be broken easily, 
thus preventing a lifetime of complaints and self-induced illness. 


Stanley: running away 

He runs away from a home he thinks has no place for him. Has 
longed to be petted and mother always too busy. Understands 
explanation that he is to be a brave boy who doesn't run away 
from things any more. Loves and hates his home at same time. 
Earns way home by responsible behavior, and returns ready to 
give instead of expecting always to be given. 

Alta: bed- wetting, backwardness, dependence, jealousy, nail-biting, 
discouragement, tantrums, aggressiveness 

Jaffrey: night-terrors, fears, shyness 

Two sensitive children lost in the middle of a large, aggressive 
family. Alta used bed-wetting to force attention and to pun- 


ish parents who no longer paid attention to her, since there 
was a new baby. It was also a wail of despair. When wetting 
disappears, nail-biting takes its place, showing further her in- 
security and further forcing attention upon herself. At- the same 
time her "dumbness" changes to fighting and rebellion, a much 
more healthy sign than her passive behavior. Now she's a force 
to be reckoned with. Prefers punishment to being ignored. Her 
respect for authority is based on both affection and fear, but is 
not very deep. Jaffrey gets attention by fears and night-terrors, 
also developing with the baby's birth. 


Arthur: stealing, suddenly unpleasant at home, sudden school 

Parents deny to him that he is adopted. He knows he is, and 
thinks they punish his pranks more severely than they would 
those of a child of their own. Is sure he cannot be loved as 
much as an own child and despairs. Begins to take pennies each 
time he thinks how unhappy he is. He seems to himself forced 
to do this. Sent to boarding school, begins to twitch. All cleared 
when he hears own story from psychologist. Straightway wants 
to do something for his parents, and in future to become a 
children's judge, because "I know how boys feel when they're 
in trouble." 

Marguerite: familiarity with boys, bad language, tantrums, accept- 
ing money from strangers, nightmares 

She never can be given sufficient proof to satisfy her that she is 
loved. Finally accepts pennies and sodas in return for childish 
favors to boys. Considers this a proof she is liked. Her need of 
assuring herself forces her on. Also her behavior punishes her 
parents with having supplanted her with a child of their own. 
Real devotion of these two litde girls, nevertheless. Terrifying 
dreams show mingling of hate and love for home. Relief when 


tormenting thought that she had to be bad, was removed. Earns 
way back from Children's House, by good behavior. 


Eleanor: refusal to leave mother to go to school; food fads, refusal 
to eat or sleep alone 

Only child in large family of worshiping adults, she willingly 
sacrificed the privileges of babyhood for the privileges and re- 
sponsibilities of being "big." Advantage of eating everything. 

Kathy: need of sharing with other children; dawn of disobedience 
Children need companionship of their own age, as one of the 
first lessons in how to live in this world. The joy and the disci- 
pline of sharing. The need of the expanding personality of the 
child to try its power by saying "No." 


Sally Ann: attention-getting devices at home and at school; de- 
pendence, hurt feelings at not being as popular as brother 
The mother, willing to face her own mistake in answering the 
questions the child should think out for herself, changes a sud- 
den dislike for school back to liking. When some friends clearly 
prefer to play with brother than with her, her mother explains 
that everyone won't like her best, that life is like that. 


Introductory: criteria of successful families 

The Houghtons: 

Parents, expecting fatal hemorrhages at any time, give their 
young children intense training in responsibility and judgment. 
They let the children decide after listening to both sides of a 
question, and are willing to be taught by child if opinions differ 
and child's judgment proves right. 


The Monroes: 
Spartan simplicity in childhood, and emphasis on value of 
interests that enrich mind and emotions. These young people 
have come through with a fine appreciation of the art of living. 

The Arnolds: 
The value of the job in developing children; the home job that 
fits age and ability, the job that changes as age and ability 
change, the job that develops responsibility, and its fine effect 
on a large family of children. Also the value of the family 
council and the group spirit that develops. 


Sally Ann: wool-gathering 

A child's chance statement of the point of view of this book 
that a child's behavior hinges on the behavior of the adults in 
his world. 

1 3 2 

L*9. I 

Though children's eyes; m , n 

3 151.2 031fll AM37